Donald Trump‘s former attorney general has pushed back against suggestions from the former president that federal authorities were ordered not to aggressively investigate claims of fraud during the 2020 presidential election.
Trump argued in a statement that William McSwain, the former US attorney in Philadelphia, was blocked from pursuing claims of election tampering.
His statement was accompanied by a two-page letter from McSwain, which suggested that then-Attorney General William Barr instructed him not to release statements about ‘possible election irregularities’, according to Politico.
But Barr, 71, has hit back against the claims from Trump and McSwain, insisting that he never told anyone not to pursue fraud allegations after the election.
William Barr (pictured) hit back against claims from Donald Trump and William McSwain, saying he never told anyone not to pursue fraud allegations after the 2020 election
He told Politico: ‘It’s written to make it seem like I gave him a directive. I never told him not to investigate anything.’
Barr has previously said that he opened an investigation because he knew Trump was going to confront him about claims of fraud and a ‘rigged’ election.
The US intelligence community looked into the claims in the weeks after the election, but found no evidence of fraud ‘on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.’
Trump’s statement, released Monday evening, claimed that McSwain was ‘precluded’ from investigating claims of fraud in the 2020 presidential election vote.
The statement, which reportedly came alongside a letter from McSwain asking for Trump’s endorsement in the Pennsylvania governor’s race, read: ‘U.S. Attorney from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania was precluded from investigating election fraud allegations. Outrageous!’
Meanwhile, McSwain’s letter, dated June 9, reportedly implied that Justice Department officials put restrictions on his ability to investigate the claims of fraud.
Donald Trump (right with Barr) reportedly argued in a statement that William McSwain, the former US attorney in Philadelphia, was blocked from pursuing claims of election tampering
He wrote: ‘I wanted to be transparent with the public and, of course, investigate fully any allegations.
‘Attorney General Barr, however, instructed me not to make any public statements or put out any press releases regarding possible election irregularities.’
Barr, who publicly began distancing himself from the former president’s claims of widespread fraud after the November election, denied ever telling McSwain not to probe any allegations of ballot irregularities.
Barr reportedly spoke to McSwain Monday after hearing about the letter and said that Trump was pressuring McSwain to claim that Barr had not fully investigated the election fraud probes.
Barr said he warned the former US attorney against easing Trump’s concerns without claiming that the fraud went unchallenged, adding that McSwain was trying to give the impression that things were not ‘adequately’ investigated.
Barr said that six days after the election, he authorized all US attorneys to pursue ballot fraud and irregularities, with many at the time claiming that he was folding to nonsensical claims by Trump.
Following Joe Biden’s declared win in November 2020, Trump immediately launched his campaign of widespread voter fraud by Democrats and began a series of lawsuits and probes into the election – especially involving the mass amount of mail-in ballots in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
The former president is still spewing these claims, including last month at his first post-presidency rally in Ohio, where he said that he is the legitimate election winner.
‘This was the scam of the century and this was the crime of the history,’ he said to a crowd gathered June 26 in Wellington, Ohio.
In the weeks following the November election, Barr – until then a staunch Trump ally – publicly began distancing himself from the former president’s wild claims of widespread fraud.
Trump’s statement was accompanied by a two-page letter from former U.S. Attorney William McSwain (pictured), which suggests that Barr instructed him not to release statements about ‘possible election irregularities’
Trump had made personal calls to US attorneys in swing districts urging them to open an investigation into Biden‘s victory, according to an excerpt of Michael Wolff’s book, ‘Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency,’ in the Daily Beast.
When they didn’t, he turned his anger toward an increasingly distant Barr, claiming ‘If I had won, Barr would have licked the floor if I asked him to. What a phony!’
Wolff’s third book on the Trump White House delves into the dramatic fallout of an outgoing president desperately trying to cling to power – even as his own circle expressed unease.
Barr resigned from his role in early December and stepped down after Christmas, seemingly drawing a line after months of walking in lockstep with Trump.
He said in the weeks following the election the U.S. intelligence community found no evidence of fraud ‘on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election’ in an interview with The Associated Press.
Months later Barr went even further and told The Atlantic that Trump’s claims were ‘bulls**t’ and he suspected ‘all the way along’ that ‘there was nothing there’.
In a report from Axios, Jonathan Karl said in a story published in The Atlantic in June that Barr concluded early on when declaring the investigation that it was highly unlikely that any evidence existed that would change that outcome of the election.
‘My attitude was: It was put-up or shut-up time,’ Barr said. ‘If there was evidence of fraud, I had no motive to suppress it.
William Barr (pictured) began distancing himself from Donald Trump’s claims of widespread fraud after the election
Donald Trump (pictured on July 7) called William Barr a ‘phony’ after the former president failed to find a US attorney to probe the 2020 election results, a new book claims
‘But my suspicion all the way along was that there was nothing there. It was all bulls**t.’
His apparent initial suspicions did not dissuade him from launching an investigation into ‘substantial allegations’ that could ‘potentially impact the outcome’ of the race, just days after Biden was declared the 46th president, according to a Justice Department memo.
Barr said he opened an investigation because he knew former Trump was going to confront him about his claims of fraud and a ‘rigged’ election, and he wanted to be able to say he looked into it and found nothing.
It was after pressure from fellow DOJ officials and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky that Barr voiced his opposition.
The former attorney general also said that McConnell urged him to speak out against Trump’s election fraud claims because he felt he wasn’t in a good position to do so himself.
In the months leading up to the election, Barr also echoed his boss’s unfounded criticisms of mail-in voting. He likened it to ‘playing with fire’ in an interview with CNN.
Barr’s sudden and direct criticism of Trump was seemingly a first for the longtime lawyer.
He previously dismissed allegations over Trump’s 2016 campaign seeking help from Russia as a ‘bogus narrative’ and even appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham to investigate Special Counsel Robert Muller’s probe of that election – which turned up no meaningful results and has now gone on longer than Mueller’s.