Responding to a line of questioning from Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., Tuesday as he testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee, Barr contradicted the president by saying “I have no reason to think” the 2020 election will be “rigged.”
The president the past few months repeatedly railed against the dramatic increase in balloting by mail during the primaries amid serious health concerns over in-person voting amid the coronavirus.
“Mail-in voting is horrible. It’s corrupt,” the president argued during a White House press briefing in early April. Trump suggested that “you get thousands and thousands of people sitting in someone’s living room signing ballots all over the place…I think that mail-in voting is a terrible thing.”
Last month, he claimed in a tweet that “Because of MAIL-IN BALLOTS, 2020 will be the most RIGGED Election in our nations history.”
And on Sunday, the president took to Twitter to charge that “The 2020 Election will be totally rigged if Mail-In Voting is allowed to take place, & everyone knows it.”
The president has rarely offered specific evidence to back up his claim that voting by mail is rampant with fraud and abuse.
The charges by the president are his latest claims — disputed by critics and opponents — regarding voter fraud, which he insists kept him from winning the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election. While Trump crushed Hillary Clinton in the Electoral College vote to win the White House, the Democratic nominee topped Trump by nearly 3 million votes in the national popular count.
For months, the president has railed against efforts by Democrats and some Republicans to allow more people to vote by mail in the general election due to coronavirus health concerns. His reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee earlier this year launched a multimillion-dollar legal push to squash moves by Democrats to expand ballot access.
Democrats, pushing back against the claims by Trump and the GOP, say that cases of actual voter fraud are limited and claim that Republicans are trying to suppress voter turnout to improve their chances of winning elections.
Barr, in his testimony, agreed with Trump as he argued that “wholesale” mail-in voting “substantially increases the risk of fraud.”
Election experts do say that voting by mail is more susceptible to fraud than casting a ballot in person, but they’ve seen no evidence of widespread fraud or that absentee balloting favors Democrats. But the massive increase in absentee balloting places an extra burden on already stressed-out state and county election officials and on a U.S. Postal Service facing financial and manpower deficits.
Asked what he would do if the president loses the election, the attorney general answered that “if the results are clear, I would leave office.”
In an interview a week and a half ago on “Fox News Sunday,” the president declined to commit to accepting the election results in November.
“I have to see. … No, I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no, and I didn’t last time, either,” Trump said when pressed during his sit-down interview with host Chris Wallace.
The comment went viral, sparking scores of headlines and stories theorizing what might happen if the president loses November’s general election but won’t accept the results and concede.