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Trump won’t say whether he has confidence in Barr

President Donald Trump refused to say whether he still has confidence in his Attorney General Bill Barr after Barr told The Associated Press this week he has not seen any evidence of voter fraud that would have overturned the election results. (Dec. 3)


Former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr and a former federal prosecutor in Philadelphia are bickering over the prosecutor’s accusation, championed by former President Donald Trump, that Barr blocked his efforts to pursue election fraud claims in the state last year.

On Monday night, Trump released a brief statement on the allegations from former U.S. Attorney William McSwain that included a link to a letter McSwain sent to Trump in early June.

Besides the claims about Barr, McSwain also requested to speak with Trump about a bid for Pennsylvania governor in 2022 and sought Trump’s endorsement.  

“U.S. Attorney from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania was precluded from investigating election fraud allegations,” Trump said in his Monday statement. “Outrageous!”  

In his letter, McSwain said Trump should be upset over the way Democratic state officials, namely Gov. Tom Wolf, former Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and the state Supreme Court majority, handled the election, calling it a “partisan disgrace.” 

McSwain also claimed Barr stopped him from investigating allegations of election fraud following Trump’s loss in Pennsylvania. President Joe Biden won the state by about 80,500 votes after Trump narrowly won it in 2016.  

Instead, McSwain said Barr told him to let Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office probe any fraud claims. McSwain said his office received complaints about voter fraud and “election irregularities” on and after Election Day.  

“As part of my responsibilities as U.S. Attorney, I wanted to be transparent with the public and, of course, investigate fully any allegations,” McSwain wrote.  

“Attorney General Barr, however, instructed me not to make any public statements or put out any press releases regarding possible election irregularities,” he continued.  

Shapiro is considered the Democratic frontrunner for governor in 2022, so he is a potential general election opponent of McSwain.

More: ‘Have you no shame?’: Biden against efforts in GOP-led states to restrict voting rights

Blanket denial by Barr

Barr has denied McSwain’s allegations in interviews with media outlets this week.  

“It’s written to make it seem like I gave him a directive,” Barr told Politico about McSwain’s letter. “I never told him not to investigate anything.”  

Politico reported that Barr spoke with McSwain on Monday, and he described McSwain as attempting a balancing act between keeping Trump happy while not alleging that “actual fraud” went uninvestigated.

“(McSwain) told me that he had to do this because he was under pressure from Trump and for him to have a viable candidacy, he couldn’t have Trump attacking him,” Barr said. 

And Barr said he gave all U.S. attorneys written authorization six days after the election to pursue any allegations of fraud.  

As for McSwain’s claims about Shapiro, Barr told the Philadelphia Inquirer that a deputy gave the suggestion to merely keep Shapiro’s office in the loop on any probes.

Shapiro’s office told the Inquirer that McSwain’s office did not forward any cases of suspected fraud to them.

Trump has continued to press the unfounded claims that election fraudlost him the 2020 elections.

In Philadelphia on Tuesday, Biden warned against voters believing in conspiracy theories, calling  efforts in states to change voting laws “election subversion.”

“It’s the most dangerous threat to voting in the integrity of free and fair elections in our history,” Biden said.

“They want the ability to reject the final count and ignore the will of the people if their preferred candidate loses.”

More: ‘It’s just a joke’: Former AG William Barr derided Trump’s false election claims

More: With scathing order, judge dismisses Trump effort to block Pennsylvania vote certification

J.D. Prose is a reporter with the USA TODAY Network’s Pennsylvania State Capital Bureau. He can be reached at