William Barr, former President Donald Trump‘s attorney general, was known for his unquestioning loyalty to Trump. But things broke down between Barr and Trump on December 1, 2020, about a month after the election was over. What he told Michael Balsamo, a Justice Department beat reporter at the Associated Press over lunch in a private dining room in Barr’s office, angered Trump.

Along with Barr at that dinner were Justice Department Chief of Staff Will Levi and spokesperson Kerri Kupec.

Barr reiterated multiple times to Balsamo: “To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”


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Balsamo’s story blew up later in an Associated Press article that led with: “Disputing Donald Trump’s Persistent Baseless Claims, Attorney General William Barr declared Tuesday the U.S. Department had uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.” Barr said plainly, Trump’s fraud claims were “total bullshit.”

In an interview with The Atlantic published this week, Barr added that then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had urged him to speak up since mid-November. McConnell said that Trump’s claims were damaging to the Republican Party and that they wouldn’t help the GOP win two runoff elections in Georgia. McConnell was afraid to confirm Joe Biden‘s win because he thought that Trump would sabotage the Republican Senate campaigns in Georgia.

Before Barr came out against the voter fraud claims, he ordered the Department of Justice to conduct an investigation. Such an act was unprecedented because there had been a policy that blocked the DOJ from investigating voter fraud since the department’s top priority should be prosecuting crime.

While the DOJ did not end up conducting a formal investigation, Barr took it upon himself to, for example, look into a conspiracy theory about ballot dumps in Detroit, particularly in Wayne County that has 662 precincts. He found that there was nothing wrong with the ballot dumps and learned that in Wayne Country, ballot counting happens at one central counting location.

He also determined that the voting machines were not rigged and that there was no evidence of stolen ballots, fake ballots or dead people voting.

About two weeks after Trump confronted Barr and questioned why he had come out against the fraud theory, Barr wrote his resignation letter, handed it to Trump, and quit his position.

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