WASHINGTON — Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday that there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, defying President Donald Trump's ongoing efforts to reverse the results.
"To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election," Barr said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Barr's comments are some of the sharpest rejections yet from a Cabinet member of Trump's false and baseless claims of a "rigged" election.
“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all, and people don’t like something they want the Department of Justice to come in and ‘investigate,’” Barr said.
"Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. They are not systemic allegations," he continued. "And those have been run down; they are being run down. Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on.”
But the DOJ stressed that it had not stopped investigating and if it receives credible allegations of fraud it will continue to pursue these types of cases.
“Some media outlets have incorrectly reported that the Department has concluded its investigation of election fraud and announced an affirmative finding of no fraud in the election. That is not what the Associated Press reported nor what the Attorney General stated," a DOJ spokesperson said. "The Department will continue to receive and vigorously pursue all specific and credible allegations of fraud as expeditiously as possible.”
Barr was seen entering the White House on Tuesday afternoon. A White House official told NBC News that Barr met with chief of staff Mark Meadows for a scheduled meeting.
Trump had publicly pressured the Department of Justice to get involved in the election outcome, telling Fox News on Sunday that he had "not seen anything" from the DOJ or the FBI on the 2020 election, lamenting that "you would think if you’re in the FBI or Department of Justice, this is the biggest thing you could be looking at."
Barr, who has been one of Trump's strongest allies in Washington, had repeated many of Trump's unfounded claims that mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic was especially vulnerable to fraud. In an interview with CNN in September, Barr argued that mail-in voting is "fraught with the risk of fraud and coercion."
Trump's legal team responded to Barr's comments Tuesday, claiming in a statement that "ample evidence of illegal voting" had not been taken seriously by the DOJ.
"With all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance of a Department of Justice investigation," the president's lawyers wrote.
Trump and other Republicans have filed over 40 election-related lawsuits, the vast majority of which have been unsuccessful. Trump's hopes of winning a second term were further scuttled after the administration last week formally authorized President-elect Joe Biden's transition process and a number of key swing states certified Biden's wins. Despite this, Trump has vowed to continue fighting the election results.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., reacted to Barr's comments, telling reporters "I guess he is the next one to be fired because he now, too, says there is no fraud."
"Trump seems to fire anyone who says that in that regard," he added.
Separately, Barr sent a letter to Congress on Tuesday notifying it that he had named U.S. Attorney John Durham a special counsel, providing him extra protection during the incoming Biden administration to continue his investigation of the origins of the FBI’s Russia probe.
The White House was not told of Durham’s appointment back in October when it happened, and administration officials only learned of the appointment when it was announced by DOJ on Tuesday, according to a department official.