US Attorney General William Barr on Monday authorized US Attorneys to pursue allegations of voting irregularities relating to the recent federal election. This is against the Department of Justice (DOJ) standard practice of waiting until the election results have been certified and all recounts have been concluded.
Barr emphasized that “clear and apparently-credible” allegations of misconduct that could influence the outcome of a federal election may be the subject of a DOJ inquiry. He stated, “specious, speculative, fanciful or far-fetched claims should not be a basis for initiating federal inquiries.”
The DOJ Election Crimes Branch standard practice is to hold off on any inquiries until the contests are concluded. Barr stated that such a “passive and delayed” enforcement approach would make it more difficult for any misconduct to be rectified.
Barr’s memo led Richard Pilger, director of the Election Crimes Branch, to step down. Pilger stated, “Having familiarized myself with the new policy and its ramifications, and in accord with the best tradition of the John C. Keeney Award for Exceptional Integrity and Professionalism (my most cherished Departmental recognition), I must regretfully resign from my role as Director of the Election Crimes Branch.”
While the Barr memo does not itself allege any specific instances of voter irregularities, it encourages US Attorneys to pursue allegations of irregularities and states that Barr has already authorized some specific investigations himself.