Former Attorney General Bill Barr denied he gave orders not to investigate voting fraud allegations in the 2020 presidential election, Politico reported Tuesday.
A statement by former President Donald Trump on Monday and an accompanying letter written by former U.S. attorney in Philadelphia William McSwain suggested Barr ordered federal authorities not to aggressively investigate claims of fraud during the election.
Barr told Politico that was not true.
"[The letter is] written to make it seem like I gave him a directive," Barr told Politico. "I never told him not to investigate anything."
The former attorney general told Politico he spoke to McSwain on Monday after hearing about the letter.
According to Barr, Trump pressured the former prosecutor to claim the then-attorney general prevented election fraud investigations last year.
McSwain, according to Barr, indicated he was trying to satisfy Trump without claiming actual fraud went unchallenged, Politico reported. The former prosecutor has sought the former president's endorsement in the Pennsylvania governor's race.
"It's very cutely written," Barr told Politico of McSwain's letter. "He said he was going to try to thread the needle. … He said to me he didn't want to say anything that would advance the president's stolen election narrative, but by the same token he was going to try to thread the needle by saying some things that were literally, technically accurate."
Barr told Politico he warned McSwain against using that tactic.
"I said, 'But you're trying to give the impression these things were not adequately or fully investigated,'" said Barr, who added he issued a written directive to all U.S. attorneys authorizing them to pursue ballot fraud and vote tabulation irregularities six days after the election.
Politico said Barr was criticized at the time by people insisting he was appeasing Trump. At least one senior DOJ prosecutor stepped down in protest over the directive.
Barr's comments came after Trump issued a statement Monday night.
"U.S. Attorney from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania was precluded from investigating election fraud allegations. Outrageous!" Trump said in the statement, which was accompanied by McSwain's two-page letter.
McSwain's message suggests Justice Department officials in Washington, D.C., limited his ability to fully investigate claims of voting fraud and irregularities, Politico said.
"I wanted to be transparent with the public and, of course, investigate fully any allegations. Attorney General Barr, however, instructed me not to make any public statements or put out any press releases regarding possible election irregularities," McSwain wrote.
"I was also given a directive to pass along serious allegations to the State Attorney General for investigation — the same State Attorney General who had already declared that you could not win," the former prosecutor said. "I disagreed with that decision, but those were my orders."
A new book by Michael Wolff claims that Trump called several U.S. attorneys, including McSwain, following the election to press them to chase fraud allegations.
Politico reported one former official said McSwain's office did aggressively investigate several election-related fraud claims, and was given no "stand-down" order from Washington.
The mention in McSwain's letter to Trump about being told to "pass along serious allegations" refers to the handling of one complaint, a source told Politico. That allegation involved Navy veteran Gregory Stenstrom's claim that 47 USB drives went missing during the election process in Delaware County, Pennsylvania.
Although Stenstrom said the USB drives could have contained as many as 120,000 votes, local officials insisted that the drives were used for programming voting machines and did not contain votes. Secured, paper confirmations of each vote cast guarded against large-scale fraud, according to the officials.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.