Attorney General William Barr has publicly broken with the White House over unfounded allegations of voter fraud in the 2020 election. Despite having no evidence of such fraud, Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed that widespread fraud led to his loss to challenger Joe Biden.
The president-elect has maintained that he is gearing up for his upcoming term, appointing key cabinet members and receiving intelligence briefings.
With the Attorney General breaking with Trump over the voter fraud allegations, it’s becoming more and more difficult for the president to continue fighting the election results.
Many states have already certified results that show Biden won, and Trump is now pressed up against numerous Constitutional deadlines. These include the selection of Electors to be sent to the Electoral College, the reading of those votes before congress, and then inauguration on January 20.
Speaking on Tuesday, Barr confirmed that the Department of Justice was convinced there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud. Barr told the Associated Press that they were following up on specific incidents of fraud, but that “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”
This is a complete one-eighty from the theory Trump has forwarded, that widespread fraud had an impact in the election’s outcome. Few in the president’s inner circle feel Trump actually believes this, according to anonymous insiders speaking to outside outlets like the New York Times and Washington Post.
Instead, they feel Trump is engaging in some kind of political theater in order to shore up his reputation for another presidential bid in 2024.
Barr’s statements about the election drew swift criticism from Trump’s remaining attorneys. Historically, Barr has been one of the president’s staunchest allies, so breaking with the White House is an unusual move for the Attorney General.
When Special Counsel Robert Mueller released his report on alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, Barr was there to editorialize the report and gave his own take on its findings days before releasing it to the public.
For his own part, Trump has not yet conceded the presidential election. Those close to him have suggested it’s unlikely he will concede at all, and that he may simply not be present for Joe Biden’s inauguration as the 46th President of the United States.
This would be a very unusual break of tradition, but, then again, Trump’s presidency has been defined by unpredictability and broken traditions.