President Donald Trump is running out of keys to throw the wheels of democracy.
Since prematurely and incorrectly declaring victory on election night, Trump and his legal team launched dozens of lawsuits aimed at overturning presidential race results in pivotal states like Nevada, Michigan and Pennsylvania. They almost all lost them. The few victories in court that they won, meanwhile, did not matter for the outcome of the race. Now US Attorney General William Barr has ruled out another potential attack route, putting an end to Trump’s electoral conspiracy theories in a interview with Associated Press.
“To date, we haven’t seen fraud on a scale that could have had a different outcome in the election,” Barr said.
This conclusion has long been evident to anyone outside the Trump campaign disinformation vortex. But it remains important on the part of Barr, who has so far proven his willingness to protect Trump’s interests. Not only Barr twists Special Advocate Robert Mueller’s report on Russian election interference and Trump’s obstruction of justice, he spent the months leading up to the election overcome the threat of postal vote fraud.
Even after the election, Barr had hinted that the Justice Department could act on Trump’s behalf. On November 9, he wrote a memo that authorized federal prosecutors to investigate “substantial allegations of voting and tabulation irregularities,” reversing a multi-year Justice Department precedent of not intervening until the elections have been certified. The departure was so extreme that he caused the resignation the director of the department’s electoral crimes section, Richard Pilger. Four days later The Washington Post reported that a group of 16 current US assistant lawyers asked Barr to withdraw the memo, arguing that he had pushed “career prosecutors into partisan politics” and that “the policy change was not based on facts “.
Barr’s decision to ignore him was not certain. And yet he has done everything possible to crack down on both general and specific fraud allegations. “There was an assertion that would be systemic fraud, and it would be the claim that the machines were programmed primarily to distort election results,” Barr told the AP, alluding to the extravagant conspiracy theory, pushed by Trump and those around him, focusing on a company called Dominion Voting Systems. “And DHS and DOJ have looked into this, and so far we haven’t seen anything to back it up.
Even if the Justice Department had produced large-scale fraud allegations, that alone would not have been enough to alter the election results. “The DOJ has the power to prosecute individuals, but no independent authority to change the tally,” said Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School, specializing in electoral law. “Even if the DOJ decided to prosecute someone for submitting a fraudulent ballot, a state could still disagree and count that ballot in the count.”
By not indulging in the President’s conspiratorial tendencies, Barr at least deprived Trump and his enablers of further ignition for their “rigged” bonfire. The president’s legal team, led by Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, continue to insist that Trump won, even though he has repeatedly failed to produce meaningful evidence of electoral fraud in court. Trump himself tweeted or retweeted election fraud allegations, press segments and hearings 27 times on Tuesday alone. (That number will likely continue to climb throughout the evening, although as of this writing, the president had yet to respond directly to Barr’s statements.)