As President Donald Trump and his tens of millions of supporters prepare for what could be a long winter filled with legal battles, it’s critical that Trump’s allies, including U.S. Attorney General William Barr, stand behind the president.
After several days of silence, Barr announced in a memo on Monday that he has authorized the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate post-voting election irregularities, Breitbart reported.
The announcement is a strong signal to Trump’s camp that they have high-level backing from the DOJ, should it be needed.
All hands on deck
The attorney general’s memorandum was addressed to a number of high-level people and groups, including the assistant attorneys general for the DOJ’s criminal division, civil rights division, the national security division and Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Christopher Wray.
Barr carefully worded the directive to make it clear that it is up to the individual states to make sure fair elections are held and investigate any irregularities, but added that the U.S. government has “an obligation to ensure that federal elections are conducted in such a way that the American people can have full confidence in their electoral process and their government.”
He also implied that election fraud cases are typically not large enough to flip the outcome of an election, but said there are exceptions.
Triggers for DOJ involvement
Another bit of strategic wording in the memo included the word “substantial” for instances of alleged fraud that would require the involvement of DOJ resources.
“Given this, and given that voting in our current elections has now concluded, I authorize you to pursue substantial allegations of voting and vote tabulation irregularities prior to the certification of elections in your jurisdictions in certain cases, as I have already done in specific instances,” Barr wrote.
In other words, Trump’s army of lawyers would need to provide a very compelling case in order to call for federal involvement. Though there are a number of cases currently being pursued by the president’s lawyers, it’s still too early to know which, if any, of them will rise to the level that the DOJ requires.
While it’s probably not what some of the president’s supporters or inner-circle were hoping for, it’s a fair trade, as any fraud allegations that would be “substantial” enough are the ones that might have the largest implications on actual election outcomes, in which case the DOJ’s involvement would be critical.
It will likely take some time before this post-election turmoil is sorted out, but if there’s a chance to turn things around for Trump, it appears that he has the resources — both in the private sphere and in government — to make his case.