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August 16, 2021

In Brief: Did Voter Fraud Swing the Election?

A recap of some of the players, investigations, and conclusions — or lack thereof.

Most conservatives believe there was something wrong with the 2020 election, even if they’re not quite willing to insist that the election was truly stolen — whatever that may mean. Power Line’s Paul Mirengoff has a good head on his shoulders, and he reviews a recent story regarding former Attorney General William Barr and the Justice Department investigation of the 2020 election.

Almost immediately after it became clear that he would be deemed the loser of the election, Donald Trump began demanding that Barr investigate voter fraud. Barr agreed to do so.

Barr issued a memo instituting the investigation. He designated Richard Donoghue, a top DOJ official in whom he had a high degree of trust, to lead the investigation.

Not surprisingly, career DOJ personnel opposed the investigation. … Nonetheless, Barr and Donoghue pushed the FBI and other relevant personnel to proceed.

Before long, Barr concluded that there was not enough evidence that voter fraud substantially affected or changed the election results. Trump and his supporters will never forgive him for that, and soon after that statement, Barr left.

At least two questions arise from this broad outline. The first is: Did Barr play the investigation straight? My information is that, yes, Barr acted in good faith, neither tilting the investigation in favor of finding fraud nor covering up or averting eyes from it.

The second question, though is: Did the investigation truly “debunk” allegations of significant, potentially outcome determinative voter fraud? Did it support the conclusion that fraud was an insignificant factor in the outcome of the election?

The answer to those questions are far more complicated. Essentially, Mirengoff argues, the combination of lack of time, lack of jurisdiction, and lack of interest (or outright resistance) among career staff left the Justice Department fundamentally unable (or unwilling) to give either “a full thumbs up or thumbs down” on the election outcome.

It’s important to note that our system isn’t designed to enable a review that can lead to a full thumbs or thumbs down in close elections. The system is designed to install a winner in less than three months following election day. It’s not designed to accommodate endless challenges and the running to ground of every potentially meaningful fraud claim in every state that played a key role in the outcome.

Barr is a realist. My guess, for what it’s worth, is that Barr understood early on, as most intelligent people did, that even if the election had been “stolen,” there was probably no way to prove it in time to change the outcome. If an investigation showed otherwise — if it revealed instances of fraud that could form the basis for a challenge that might succeed — Barr would act accordingly. When the investigation didn’t reveal such instances, it confirmed Barr’s initial sense that the initial outcome would be the final outcome.

As Mirengoff himself concludes, “Trump’s loss has more to do with Democrat machinations prior to the voting than with fraud in the counting of votes. In key states, Democrats re-wrote election laws and voting procedures in their favor.”

He says that, so far at least, “The evidence doesn’t support Trump’s claim that his loss was attributable to voter fraud, although this remains a possibility.” And “we may never know for sure.”

To the eternal shame of so many elected and unelected officials.

Read the whole thing here.

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