July 26, 2021

Barr says no basis for special counsel to investigate election, no federal authority to seize voting machines

Attorney General William Barr said Monday he has seen no reason for a special counsel to investigate possible fraud in the November election, contradicting an idea proposed by President Donald Trump.

Barr, who is set to step down on Wednesday, said, “if I thought a special counsel was appropriate, I would name one, and I haven’t.”

“I said there was not enough fraud to affect the election and I stand by that,” he said, noting what he said in an AP interview shortly before informing Trump during a White House meeting that he would resign.

Barr also said that he doesn’t intend to appoint a special counsel to investigate President-elect Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, as the president and others were mulling.

PHOTO: Attorney General William Barr speaks during a news conference, Dec. 21, 2020 at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. (Michael Reynolds/Pool via AP)
PHOTO: Attorney General William Barr speaks during a news conference, Dec. 21, 2020 at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. (Michael Reynolds/Pool via AP)
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Barr said he didn’t see any basis for the federal government seizing voting machines used in key states, as Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has suggested.

He did not directly answer if the president has the authority to issue that order.

“I see no basis now for seizing machines by the federal government, you know, a wholesale seizure of machines by the federal government,” he said.

During a Friday meeting with Trump at the White House, a source said, Guiliani, lawyer Sydney Powell and retired Gen. Michael Flynn discussed an executive order to seize and examine voting machines across the country.

MORE: Fired attorney Sidney Powell is back, advising Trump to chart a scorched-earth course

Trump invited Powell to consider the possibility that she be appointed a special counsel and be given high-level security clearances to investigate the 2020 election. The meeting was highly contentious, sources told ABC News, filled with screaming and demands from Powell, who called other Trump aids “quitters” for giving up the fight.

The meeting ended with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, White House counsel Pat Cipollone and other Trump attorneys talking the president out of making the offer, the sources said. Giuliani, who joined the meeting by phone, also opposed the idea, according to sources.

Powell did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment. She was at the White House Sunday as well, but the reason was unclear.

Barr’s candid comments came when he answered reporters’ questions at an unrelated news conference.

The attorney general also was asked about the potential that a president could pardon himself, to which he said that he did not want to “opine on constitutional issue.”

Barr was also asked about the SolarWinds cyber hack of key federal agencies and high-profile private companies, and he said that he agreed with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who attributed the hack to the Russians.

“It appears to be the Russians,” Barr said, adding that he can’t comment any further.

Over the weekend, President Trump contradicted Pompeo, suggesting China could be responsible for the hack. He has not spoken out against Russia.

“The Cyber Hack is far greater in the Fake News Media than in actuality. I have been fully briefed and everything is well under control. Russia, Russia, Russia is the priority chant when anything happens because Lamestream is, for mostly financial reasons, petrified of… discussing the possibility that it may be China (it may!),” Trump wrote on Twitter.

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