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Emails: Senior DOJ officials wrangled over baseless Trump voter fraud allegations

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12.08.2021

During Donald Trump's final weeks in office, top Justice Department officials wrangled over how the FBI should handle a particularly wacky voter fraud allegation promoted by the then-president and his allies. Unreleased emails obtained by POLITICO show just how tense the episode got.

The dispute pitted a senior career section chief against one of the DOJ’s top officials, with the FBI caught in the crossfire. Trump’s appointees at DOJ ultimately prevailed, and their investigation — a probe into a viral video from Georgia that didn’t actually find any evidence of fraud — ended up playing a role in torpedoing the president’s narrative. While Trump’s opponents fretted that the FBI’s involvement would undermine public confidence in elections and boost Republican talking points, it had the opposite effect.

At the time of the email dispute, Trump and his allies were lobbing a host of allegations about voter fraud, claiming wide-reaching and nefarious forces had conspired to steal the election for Biden. One allegation in particular commanded the president’s attention: a video showing election workers counting ballots at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. Trump’s allies claimed it showed the workers secretly pulling ballots out of “suitcases” and using them to commit election fraud.

Officials in the office of Georgia’s secretary of state quickly debunked those claims. But on Dec. 5, Trump alluded to the video at a rally in Georgia, suggesting it proved poll workers were stuffing ballot boxes to help the Democrats.

Two days later, at 12:34 a.m. on Dec. 7, the head of DOJ’s Public Integrity Section (PIN) — which oversees investigations of voter fraud, along with a host of other issues — sent a four-paragraph email to an FBI official. Lawyers in the section had learned that FBI agents planned to interview people who appeared in a video showing votes being counted at State Farm Arena in Georgia –– a video Georgia’s secretary of state had already investigated. The email doesn’t give much detail about the video, but it appears to be discussing the same one that Trump........

© Politico


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