The Justice Department has found no evidence of widespread fraud in this year's election, Attorney General William Barr told The Associated Press on Tuesday in remarks that directly contradict the President Trump's baseless claims that the vote was rigged.
Trump has refused to concede his election loss to Joe Biden and instead has pushed unfounded allegations of systemic fraud to claim the vote was stolen. His lawyers have failed to provide evidence in court to back up the claims and conspiracy theories the president has propagated on Twitter.
Now, in an interview with the AP, the attorney general says the Justice Department hasn't found any evidence either.
"To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election," Barr said.
Barr said that U.S. attorneys and the FBI have looked into specific allegations but that they have found nothing that would affect the outcome of the election.
Trump's legal team of Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis immediately pushed back against Barr's comments.
"With all due respect to the attorney general, there hasn't been any semblance of a Department of Justice investigation," they said in a statement.
They said they had gathered "ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states," which they said the department had not examined. The states were not named in the statement. Giuliani and Ellis said they would continue their legal fight.
Admission follows allegations
That aside, the attorney general's acknowledgement about the department not uncovering any widespread fraud was a major admission.
Before the election, Barr had been in lockstep with the president about what they said were the dangers of mail-in voting. The practice was, they claimed without evidence, ripe for fraud and manipulation.
"It absolutely opens the floodgates to fraud," Barr said at one point this summer.
Election security experts, however, said all along that just wasn't true.
Ultimately, the 2020 vote was "the most secure in American history" in the words of the Trump administration's own election security experts.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said in a statement in mid-November that "there is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes or was in any way compromised."
President Trump fired the CISA director, Christopher Krebs, after that statement was released.
Speaking in an NPR interview on Tuesday, Krebs stood by his earlier assessment.
"This was a secure election," he said. "That is a success story. That is something everyone in the administration should be proud of. That's the story I feel we should be telling now."
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
If you look at the president's Twitter feed, you would see a stream of unsubstantiated claims of election fraud from questionable sources with little proof. The facts are the president has lost almost all of his legal challenges. And the states where he is contesting the results have certified the vote. Now the president's own attorney general, William Barr, is acknowledging that reality. He's confirmed that the Justice Department has found no evidence so far of widespread voter fraud in the presidential election that would change the result. Joe Biden will be the next president. NPR justice correspondent Ryan Lucas is with us for more. Good morning.
RYAN LUCAS, BYLINE: Good morning.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Barr is a staunch ally of the president. Some argue he is even too close to him. So this statement is significant.
LUCAS: It is significant. And it all came out in an interview that Barr did with the Associated Press. And what he said was that federal prosecutors and the FBI have looked into specific claims and information that they have received about the vote. And he said that they have not found, at this point, any evidence of widespread fraud. Now, he mentioned one claim in particular that has been making the rounds among Trump supporters, which is that voting machines were somehow manipulated to switch votes in Biden's favor. Barr said the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security looked into those allegations. And he said that they have not found anything to substantiate them.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: So Barr is debunking the president's claims. I'm not going to detail more of those claims. There have been many. But it has got to matter that his own Justice Department contradicts the president.
LUCAS: It does. It is particularly striking hearing this from Barr because Barr, as you noted, has been a close adviser and a loyal ally of the president. In the run up to the election this summer, in fact, Barr was out in public right alongside the president stoking false fears about the safety of mail-in voting. Barr and the president repeatedly claimed falsely that voting by mail was susceptible to fraud and abuse. But now, after the election, here we have the attorney general coming out and contradicting the president's baseless claims of fraud in this election.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Did President Trump or his campaign have any response to this?
LUCAS: The response came from the campaign's lawyers, Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis. They put out a statement yesterday about Barr's remarks. And they allege, in that statement, that the Justice Department hasn't really investigated anything related to voter fraud. And they say that they will continue their fight in the courts and in state legislatures. Now, it's important to state here that over the past month, courts have looked at and repeatedly dismissed the claims that the Trump campaign has brought and made in court.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. I want to turn to some other news out of the Justice Department because Barr has appointed John Durham as special counsel to investigate the origins of the Russia probe. Yeah. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
LUCAS: Right. Barr appointed Durham special counsel in mid-October. We just learned of this yesterday. He did so under the same regulation that Robert Mueller, actually, was appointed special counsel. And Barr says that he did this to make sure that no matter who won the election, that Durham could continue his investigation. Remember that Durham has been investigating the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation. He's been doing this for more than a year.
It is a criminal investigation at this point. So far, only one person has been charged. That is a former FBI lawyer who's pleaded guilty to altering an email. Barr told the AP that Durham's probe has narrowed over time and it's now focused on the FBI's activities in the Trump-Russia investigation. But the bottom line here, by appointing Durham special counsel, what Barr has done is made it harder for the incoming Biden administration to shut this probe down if - if - it wanted to do so.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: And I'm sure it's welcome news to his Republican allies. NPR's Ryan Lucas. Thank you very much.
LUCAS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.