The top election crimes prosecutor at the Department of Justice resigned after Attorney General William Barr said some alleged voting irregularities may be investigated federal prosecutors, CNN reported Monday.
Richard Pilger, director of the elections crimes branch at the Department of Justice (DOJ), said he was resigning due to a memo sent by Barr outlining policy plans to end a 40-year-old non-interference policy for ballot fraud investigation, according to CNN. Pilger attached the memo from Barr to his resignation letter, though Pilger will not leave DOJ altogether but will work on corruption investigations, the New York Times reported.
Pilger said Barr was issuing “an important new policy abrogating the forty-year-old Non-Interference Policy for ballot fraud investigations in the period prior to elections becoming certified and uncontested,” according to CNN.
“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 said in the memo, CNN reported.
Pilger is staying at the Justice Department and will return work as a line prosecutor in the Public Integrity section prosecuting corruption cases.
— Katie Benner (@ktbenner) November 10, 2020
Barr’s memo reportedly encouraged prosecutors to begin an investigation into the substantial alleged voter fraud surrounding the 2020 general election, according to CNN. Barr okayed prosecutors to begin interviewing witnesses, an action that would typically require permission from the elections crimes department.
“While most allegations of purported election misconduct are of such a scale that they would not impact the outcome of an election and, thus, investigation can appropriately be deferred, that is not always the case,” Barr said in the memo.
“Furthermore, any concerns that overt actions taken by the Department could inadvertently impact an election are greatly minimized, if they exist at all, once voting has concluded, even if election certification has not yet been completed,” Barr added, according to CNN.
Weeks of internal discussion preceded Barr’s memo, according to CNN. Senior officials reportedly thought the changes were a bad idea, according to someone familiar with the matter.
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