The Metamorphosis of William Barr
by Joe Fried, CPA
“To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election.”
More than two years after the 2020 election, those words by former Attorney General William Barr are still used as proof that the election was fair and honest. But how much credence should we give this man— or the words in his famous statement?
William Barr is a duplicitous man, and some of his dishonesty was revealed recently in an article in the Independent Sentinel. While Trump was being impeached for allegedly soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 election, Barr already had access to at least one of the Hunter Biden laptops. Information on that laptop would have been useful to Trump’s impeachment defense, but Barr withheld the information. It was not an inadvertent oversight. Barr has been equally treacherous in regard to allegations of election fraud and irregularities. On those matters, he also refused to take action.
On November 9, 2020, former Attorney General William Barr issued a memo to his election crimes division, and it seemed pretty reasonable.
The Barr memo said, in part:
“[G]iven 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. . . . Such inquiries and reviews may be conducted if there are clear and apparently credible allegations of irregularities that, if true, could potentially impact the outcome of a federal election in an individual state.”
To paraphrase Barr: If you hear of a substantial and credible allegation that could actually change the results of the election, you are authorized to pursue it.
No one was being ordered to start an investigation. Rather, Barr’s attorneys were being told to keep their ears and eyes open and use judgment. And consider this: Would you want a prosecutor to ignore substantial and credible allegations of fraud?
Barr’s memo may sound reasonable to you and me, but we are not highly sophisticated and ethical DOJ attorneys. One such lawyer is Richard Pilger, who quit as director of the Election Crimes Branch of DOJ on the day Barr’s memo was issued.
Pilger explained his employment change this way:
“Having familiarized myself with the new policy and its ramifications, and in accord with the best tradition of the John C. Keeney Award for Exceptional Integrity and Professionalism (my most cherished Departmental recognition), I must regretfully resign from my role as Director of the Election Crimes Branch.”
Here are a few key points regarding the Pilger statement:
- He has a “cherished” award for Exceptional Integrity. Did you realize that?
- Second, while maintaining his exceptional integrity, he managed to avoid losing a dime of pay. (He merely transferred to another job in the department.)
- Finally: His little hissy fit probably earned him lots of points with the incoming Biden administration.
Eager to get in on the act, sixteen other federal prosecutors wrote to AG Barr to say they had found no evidence of “substantial allegations of voting and vote tabulation irregularities,” so he should rescind his memo. When did the 16 attorneys write that memo to Barr? They wrote it four days after Barr wrote his memo. Barr issued his memo on Monday, November 9, and the sixteen prosecutors responded on Friday, November 13. As you can see, they didn’t wait long for the allegations to come rolling in. They gave it four days.
Enter the new Mr. Barr
Apparently, the rebellion by his troops had an impact on the General. A couple of weeks later, on December 1, 2020, William Barr famously declared that he had not seen significant fraud that could alter the election results.
It was a premature and reckless declaration, made after zero investigations were undertaken. And it was very damaging to the cause of election integrity. For the self-proclaimed conspiracy debunkers in the media, Barr’s meaningless statement, along with the “60 dismissed court cases” canard and the Christopher Krebs “most secure in American history” claim, would become the go-to proof of Biden’s clean victory over Trump. To this very day, we hear these words used robotically by lazy fact-checkers.
One final point: Barr’s statement referred to “fraud,” and fraud almost always requires intent. However, there can be plenty of election irregularities that do not involve intent. A county or precinct office may be violating election law without even realizing it. For example, the election office may be inadequately training staff, using unsecured computers, violating the chain of custody rules, ignoring time limits, etc. Those violations of rules and laws are probably not fraud, but they still count, and they still require investigation. For God’s sake, doesn’t Barr know that?
Joe Fried is an Ohio-based CPA who has performed and reviewed hundreds of certified financial audits. He is the author of the new book, Debunked? An auditor reviews the 2020 election— and the lessons learned (Republic Book Publishers, 2022). It provides a comprehensive overview of irregularities that affected the 2020 election.