(Update 1: Adds quotes from Pilger in pars 11-12, rearranges pars, minor edits)
Washington DC, Nov 9 (efe-epa).- The United States’ attorney general, William Barr, authorized federal prosecutors on Monday to investigate allegations of voting irregularities in last week’s presidential election, despite lack of evidence and even though the results have not yet been certified.
With the authorization, Barr put federal prosecutors essentially at the service of President Donald Trump, who has not recognized his defeat in last week’s elections against president-elect Joe Biden and peddles unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud.
“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 in certain cases, as I have already done in specific instances,” Barr said in a memorandum to prosecutors.
“Such inquiries and reviews may be conducted if there are clear and apparently-credible allegations of irregularities that, if true, could potentially impact the outcome of a federal election in an individual State,” he added.
These types of fraud investigations are usually under the jurisdiction of individual states.
In his memo, Barr also headed off concerns about the existing protocols for such an investigation, which state that they should not be activated until the results are certified and all recounts and election contests are concluded.
He said these protocols made for a “passive and delayed enforcement approach” that “can result in situations in which electoral misconduct cannot realistically be rectified.”
Barr added that “specious, speculative, fanciful or far-fetched claims should not be a basis for initiating federal inquiries.”
The attorney-general has often been accused of politicizing the Department of Justice, and his announcement drew skepticism from poll experts and lawyers.
Hours after the memo was sent, Richard Pilger, the justice department official overseeing election crimes, quit, the New York Times first reported.
In an email to colleagues, Pilger said Barr’s memo was “an important new policy abrogating the forty-year old Non-Interference Policy for ballot fraud investigation in the period prior to elections becoming certified and uncontested.”
“Having familiarized myself with the new policy and its ramifications… I must regretfully resign from my role,” he said.
The campaigns of the outgoing president and of the Republican Party have filed more than a dozen lawsuits – some since withdrawn – in various states denouncing alleged irregularities, but even if these claims were true, they do not seem to be enough to reverse the result.
To win the election, Trump would have to flip the counts in Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Nevada or Arizona, all of them states where Biden has already been declared the winner or is clearly leading the vote. EFE-EPA