Meadows brought fraud claim to Barr the day after 2020 election

Mark Meadows, President Trump’s former White House chief of staff, questioned the results of the 2020 election just a day after it was held and texted Atty. General Bill Barr on Nov. 4 investigating an allegation of fraud, according to records released by the Justice Department.

The notices show how quickly Meadows scrambled to find evidence of fraud after it became apparent Trump would lose the election, an effort the House Inquiry Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 rioting said in recent years Hearings described as central to the former president’s plan to remain in power.

The nightly exchange began with a text message from Meadows to Barr.

“I don’t know how valid or who would be the best person to investigate, but I thought you should be made aware of it. Tom Fitton tweeted it and it will likely draw some attention,” Meadows wrote to Barr at 10:44 p.m. Fitton is president of Judicial Watch, a right-wing activist organization that has maintained unsubstantiated 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 online, alleging that postal workers in Michigan were instructed to backdate mail-in ballots so they appear they arrived on election day.

Two minutes later, Barr replied, “Understood.”

The messages, which were included in records of the 2020 election released by the Justice Department under the Freedom of Information Act, appear to be the earliest documented instances of Meadows Barr bringing up allegations of voter fraud, an effort that has dragged on for weeks As president, his lawyers and his supporters promoted conspiracy theories to change the outcome of the election. Trump, Meadows and others also pressured the Justice Department to become directly involved in ongoing court proceedings over election results and to make blanket statements that fraud had taken place.

Barr said repeatedly after the election, including in a December 1 interview with the Associated Press, that he found no evidence of widespread voter fraud and that most of the allegations made by Trump and his circles related to individual instances and no larger systemic problem.

The Jan. 6 Committee of the House of Representatives held a hearing earlier this month that focused on this pressure campaign. Most of her presentation, however, highlighted Trump’s increasing insistence in the final weeks of his presidency that the department participate in pursuing his baseless fraud allegations, going so far as to depose the acting attorney general to place a supporter in the role three days before Congress approved the election results on January 6th.

Barr told the committee in his testimony that Meadows will send him information and allegations brought to attention by the president or others and he will send them to staffers to determine if they should be investigated further, according to one asked a person familiar with Barr’s testimony to remain anonymous in order to speak openly with The Times about the proceedings.

“[Meadows] really just sent them over like he was going to get them off his desk. He never pushed or chased [the Justice Department] “To do something with the information,” the person said, Barr told the committee, noting that Barr took it as a perfectly normal communication from the White House chief of staff.

It’s unclear if the texts to Barr are among the thousands of text messages Meadows selectively turned over to the House Committee before abruptly ceasing to cooperate with his investigation. The lyrics to Barr are not among those that have been leaked to various media outlets and published. CNN and the Washington Post have reviewed hundreds of messages from Meadows, including texts from conservative figures urging him to challenge Trump’s election results in court and texts he received from lawmakers and conservative media figures during the Jan. 6 riot Has.

Meadows’ Nov. 4 text is the only one in which Barr Meadows responded. The former attorney general immediately forwarded the link to his chief of staff, Will Levi, with a note: “Please reach out to the right people.”

Meadows did not respond to requests for comment.

Meadows’ writing continued, particularly after Barr made the unorthodox decision to issue a memo telling federal prosecutors they could investigate “specific allegations” of voter fraud before the presidential election results were confirmed. The memo warned that “false, speculative, fanciful, or far-fetched claims should not be a basis for initiating federal investigations.”

The memo violated the Justice Department’s decades-old non-interference policy, which prohibited investigations into fraud allegations or other open investigative steps until after the election results were confirmed, so as not to influence the outcome.

Meadows wrote to Barr again on November 10, sending him a .pdf file labeled “Carone_Affidavit,” which Barr, in turn, would forward to Levi without instructions. In a separate message, Meadows wrote, “Referred to FBI in affidavit.”

The affidavit came from Mellissa Carone, a contract IT worker who made multiple allegations of voter fraud at a Detroit vote counting center, including claims that she had seen ballots illegally scanned multiple times and that vans meant to deliver meals for poll workers were hiding tens of thousands of ballots. The document was part of a Trump campaign lawsuit in Wayne County, Michigan. A district judge later ruled on Nov. 13 that Carone’s claims were “simply not credible” and denied the campaign’s request to prevent the district from confirming the findings.

Despite the ruling, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani used Carone as his key witness at a Dec. 2, 2020 hearing into Michigan House voter fraud.

Meadows also texted Barr on November 10, 2020 a link to another O’Keefe tweet, which was also deleted but can be found online, with the message “The audio is problematic.” O’Keefe’s tweet allegedly included audio snippets of an interview a Pennsylvania postal worker conducted with federal agents after he claimed his bosses had instructed workers to backdate mail-in ballots. Although the worker recanted his story that day, O’Keefe’s tweet included a statement from the worker that he actually stood by his original claims.

The allegation is one of several the Justice Department investigated after the election, Barr said.

The next afternoon, Meadows sent Barr a video file and a message that read, “Dale Harrison in Colorado. May be rigged but worth checking.” Harrison, a TikTok hoax, was seen in the video destroying a Trump ballot while disguised as a postal worker.

Barr also forwarded the video to Levi along with the message from Meadows. Levi quickly responded with a link to a Newsweek article in which Harrison admitted he faked destroying a ballot to gain supporters.

The last messages from Meadows to Barr included a Microsoft Word document detailing efforts by the Lincoln Project, a political action committee led by anti-Trump Republicans, to get Pennsylvania attorneys working on the legislation voter fraud worked to dismiss. Barr did not respond and did not forward the document. Meadows brought fraud claim to Barr the day after 2020 election

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