White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, the former president of Trump, questioned the results of the 2020 election just a day after it took place and texted Atty. Gene. Bill Barr on Nov. 4 on investigating a fraud allegation, according to data released by the Justice Department.
The communication shows how quickly Meadows moved to find evidence of fraud after it was clear Trump would lose the election, an effort the House selection committee is investigating into the January 6, 2021 insurgency, said in recent hearings that was central to the election. the former president’s plan to remain in power.
The overnight exchange began with a text message from Meadows to Barr.
“I don’t know how able-bodied or who would be the best person to investigate this, but I thought you should be made aware of this. Tom Fitton tweeted it and it will probably get some attention,” Meadows Barr wrote at 10 :44 hours. pm Fitton is president of Judicial Watch, a right-wing activist organization that has perpetuated baseless allegations of voter fraud.
The text was accompanied by a link to a tweet by far-right provocateur James O’Keefe, which has since been deleted. but can be found onlinealleging that postal workers in Michigan were ordered to backdate the post-in ballots so that they appear as if they arrived on Election Day.
Two minutes later, Barr replied, “I see.”
The messages, which were contained in records related to the 2020 elections Released by the Department of Justice under the Freedom of Information Act, appear to be the earliest documented cases in which Meadows made allegations of voter fraud against Barr, an effort that would go on for weeks as the president, his legal team and his supporters spread conspiracy theories in a attempt to change the election results. Trump, Meadows and others also pressured the Justice Department to become directly involved in pending lawsuits over election results and to issue blanket statements that fraud had taken place.
Barr said repeatedly after the election: including in a Dec 1 interview with the Associated Press, that he has found no evidence of widespread electoral fraud and that most of the allegations made by Trump and those around him related to individual cases and not to a larger systemic problem.
The January 6 House committee held a hearing on that press campaign earlier this month. However, most of their presentation highlighted Trump’s increasing insistence in the final weeks of his presidency that the department get involved in pushing its baseless fraud allegations, even going so far as removing the acting attorney general to a supporter in the role three days before Congress ratified the election results on Jan. 6.
Barr told the committee in his statement that Meadows would send him information and allegations that the president or others had drawn attention to, and he would send it to staff to determine if it needed further investigation, according to a person known. with Barr’s testimony being asked to remain anonymous to speak candidly with The Times about the proceedings.
†[Meadows] actually he just sent them as if he were taking them off his desk. He never pushed or chased [the Justice Department] about doing” something with the information, the person told the committee, noting that Barr saw it as perfectly normal communication from the White House Chief of Staff.
It’s unclear whether the text messages to Barr are among the thousands of text messages Meadows selectively turned over to the House committee before abruptly ceasing to cooperate with the investigation. The texts to Barr are not among those leaked and published by various media outlets. CNN and the Washington Post have reviewed hundreds of messages from Meadows, including texts from conservative figures urging him to let Trump battle the election results in court, and texts he received from lawmakers and conservative media personalities during the January 6 uprising.
The November 4 text from Meadows is the only one in which Barr has replied to Meadows. The former attorney general immediately forwarded the link to his chief of staff Will Levi with a note: “Please go to the right people.”
Meadows did not return requests for comment.
Meadows’ lyrics continued, especially after Barr made the unorthodox decision to… matter a memo federal prosecutors said they were allowed to investigate “specific allegations” of voter fraud before certifying presidential election results. The memo warned that “misleading, speculative, fanciful, or far-fetched claims should not form the basis for initiating federal investigations.”
The memo went against the Department of Justice’s decades-old non-interference policy, which banned investigations into allegations of fraud or other overt investigative steps until after the election results were certified so as not to influence the outcome.
Meadows texted Barr again on Nov. 10, sending him a .pdf file labeled “Carone_Affidavit” that Barr would in turn forward to Levi without instructions. In a separate message, Meadows wrote, “Referred to the FBI in affidavit.”
The affidavit was from Mellissa Carone, a contract IT worker who made several allegations of electoral fraud at a vote-counting center in Detroit, including allegations that she had illegally scanned ballots multiple times and that vans intended to bring in meals for election workers were getting caught. hid tens of thousands of ballots. The document was part of a lawsuit filed by the Trump campaign in Wayne County, Michigan. A district judge later ruled on Nov. 13 that Carone’s allegations “just aren’t credible” and denied the campaign’s request to block the county from certifying the results.
Despite the ruling, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani used Carone as his key witness at a hearing on December 2, 2020 on electoral fraud held by the Michigan House.
Meadows also texted Barr a link to another O’Keefe tweet on Nov. 10, 2020, which has also been deleted but can be found online, with the message “the audio is troublesome”. O’Keefe’s tweet contained alleged audio snippets of an interview a Pennsylvania postal worker had with federal agents after alleging his superiors were instructing workers to backdate ballots. Although the employee retracted his story that day, O’Keefe’s tweet included a statement from the employee that he actually backed his original claims.
The allegation is one of several allegations the Justice Department has been investigating after the election, Barr said.
The next afternoon, Meadows sent Barr a video file and a message that read, “Dale Harrison in Colorado. Maybe manipulation, but worth a look.” Harrison, a TikTok prankster, was featured in the video destroying a Trump ballot while dressed as a mailman.
Barr also forwarded the video to Levi, along with the message from Meadows. Levi was quick to respond with a link to a Newsweek article where Harrison admitted to pretending to destroy a ballot to gain followers.
Meadows’ latest messages to Barr include a Microsoft Word document detailing an attempt by the Lincoln Project, a political action committee led by anti-Trump Republicans, to fire attorneys in Pennsylvania who worked on vote-fraud laws. Barr did not respond or forward the document.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times†