You knew Bill Barr had to make an appearance in this dangerous farce somewhere, and when he did, it was a classic example of authoritarian coup tactics.
Attorney General William P. Barr, wading into President Trump’s unfounded accusations of widespread election irregularities, told federal prosecutors on Monday that they were allowed to investigate “specific allegations” of voter fraud before the results of the presidential race are certified.
Mr. Barr’s authorization prompted the Justice Department official who oversees investigations of voter fraud, Richard Pilger, to step down from the post within hours, according to an email Mr. Pilger sent to colleagues that was obtained by The New York Times.
Mr. Barr said he had authorized “specific instances” of investigative steps in some cases. He made clear in a carefully worded memo that prosecutors had the authority to investigate, but he warned that “specious, speculative, fanciful or far-fetched claims should not be a basis for initiating federal inquiries.”
Mr. Barr’s directive ignored the Justice Department’s longstanding policies intended to keep law enforcement from affecting the outcome of an election. And it followed a move weeks before the election in which the department lifted a prohibition on voter fraud investigations before an election.
“Given that voting in our current elections has now concluded, I authorize you to pursue substantial allegations of voting and vote tabulation irregularities prior to the certification of elections in your jurisdictions,” Mr. Barr wrote.
A Justice Department official said that Mr. Barr had authorized scrutiny of allegations about ineligible voters in Nevada and backdated mail-in ballots Pennsylvania. Republicans have circulated both claims in recent days without any evidence emerging to back them.
Mr. Barr did not write the memo at the direction of Mr. Trump, the White House or any Republican lawmakers, the official said.
Mr. Barr has privately told department officials in the days since the election that any disputes should be resolved in court by the campaigns themselves, according to three people briefed on the conversations. He has said that he did not see massive fraud, and that most of the allegations of voter fraud were related to individual instances that did not point to a larger systemic problem, the people said.
But critics of Mr. Barr immediately condemned the memo as a political act that undermined the Justice Department’s typical independence from the White House.
The legal reasoning from Team Trump now, thanks to this horsecrap:
- Because the Justice Department has authorized US attorneys to investigate fraud that doesn't actually exist,
- election results then can't be certified until the investigation by US attorneys is exhausted,
- and this will take as long as it takes,
- and if it takes so long that electors to the Electoral College can't give either candidate 270 votes,
- because not enough state elections have been certified and for electors to be elected by the states,
- or faithless electors vote for Trump,
- then the Supreme Court has to step in and stop the election process for President,
- then the Presidential contest has to go to the majority of House state delegations where Trump wins, or
- state legislatures elect faithless electors anyway, and
- enough faithless electors abandon Biden and give Trump 270 electoral votes,
- and the Supreme Court orders all-new elections for the House and Senate races in disputed states,
- which would simply be annulled by SCOTUS until enough Republicans win.
Now that is a 12-step program to hell, yes?
It would effectively be the end of free and fair elections in the US, which is kind of funny actually because America didn't have universal suffrage for roughly the first 180 years of its existence thanks to non-white folk not being able to vote, women not being able to vote, and Jim Crow laws, and the major mechanism for enforcing universal suffrage, the Voting Rights Act, was effectively dismantled by Chief Justice John Roberts seven years ago, and kept dismantled by Mitch McConnell.
Free and fair small "d" democratic elections in America are literally a younger concept than the Zandarparents. America has been an actual "symbol of freedom" for maybe six decades out of 25, and that's being amazingly generous.
And Bill Barr is helping Trump put an end to that.