US Attorney General William Barr says his justice department has found no proof to back President Donald Trump’s claims of fraud in the 2020 election.
“To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election,” said the top US law enforcement agent.
His comments are seen as a big blow to Trump, who has not accepted defeat, reports the BBC
He and his campaign have filed lawsuits in states that he lost, as they begin certifying Joe Biden as the winner.
Since 3 November’s vote, Trump has repeatedly made unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud, and members of his legal defence team have spoken of an alleged international plot to hand Mr Biden the win.
“There’s been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results,” Barr told AP News on Tuesday, referring to the assertion that ballot machines were hacked to give more votes to Biden.
Barr said that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Homeland Security have investigated that claim, “and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that”.
“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,'” he added. He also told the AP that he had appointed a veteran prosecutor to continue investigating the origins of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into alleged election meddling.
Reacting to his comments, Trump campaign lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis said in a joint statement: “With the greatest respect to the Attorney General, his opinion appears to be without any knowledge or investigation of the substantial irregularities and evidence of systemic fraud.”
In Trump’s first post-election TV interview on Sunday, he told Fox News that he would continue to pursue every legal challenge available.
“My mind will not change in six months,” he said by phone, adding: “There was tremendous cheating here.”
He also floated the idea of having a special counsel appointed to investigate the election. Any such special counsel would have to be approved by Barr.
Barr is not the first senior US official to declare the election free from tampering.
Chris Krebs, who headed the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, was fired last month after he disputed Trump’s fraud claims. The 2020 election “was the most secure in American history,” he had said.
On Monday, Trump lawyer Joe DiGenova drew swift condemnation after he called for violence against Krebs.
“Anybody who thinks the election went well,” he told The Howie Carr Show podcast, “like that idiot Krebs who used to be the head of cybersecurity, that guy is a class A moron.
“He should be drawn and quartered. Taken out at dawn and shot.”