Fried: The Rehabilitation of William Barr


Have you noticed? The former attorney general has been making the D.C. rounds, giving lots of interviews as he promotes the release of the paperback version of his book.

However, he is not just selling books: His larger goal is one of rehabilitation.

William Barr must atone for the crime of serving in the Trump administration. Otherwise, he will never get invited to another lavish D.C. party. For this reason, his interviews usually include strong criticisms of Trump and predictions of his demise.

William Barr is a duplicitous man. While Trump was being impeached for allegedly soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 election, Barr already had access to at least one of the Hunter Biden laptops. Information on that laptop would have been useful to Trump’s impeachment defense, but Barr withheld the information.

It was not an inadvertent oversight. Barr has been equally treacherous in regard to allegations of election fraud and irregularities. On those matters he also refused to take action.

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On Nov. 9, 2020, then-Attorney General Barr issued a reasonable memo to his election crimes unit. The memo said, in part:

“Given that voting in our current elections has now concluded, 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. … Such inquiries and reviews may be conducted if there are clear and apparently-credible allegations of irregularities that, if true, could potentially impact the outcome of a federal election in an individual State.”

To paraphrase: If you hear of a substantial and credible allegation that could actually change the results of the election, you are authorized to pursue it. Barr’s attorneys were being told to keep their ears and eyes open and to use judgment. They were not being ordered to start an investigation.

Barr’s memo did not sit well with the highly sophisticated and ethical attorneys working at the Department of Justice. Richard Pilger, the director of the Election Crimes Branch, had a hissy fit, and he quit on the day Barr issued his memo. Pilger explained his employment change this way:

“Having familiarized myself with the new policy and its ramifications, and in accord with the best tradition of the John C. Keeney Award for Exceptional Integrity and Professionalism (my most cherished Departmental recognition), I must regretfully resign from my role as Director of the Election Crimes Branch.”

Here are the key points we can deduce from Pilger’s statement:

  • He has a “cherished” award for exceptional integrity.
  • Instead of quitting his job, he just transferred to another department. That way he didn’t lose a dime of pay.
  • His little tantrum must have earned him lots of points with the incoming Biden administration.

Barr’s sham investigation lasted just four days. His memo was issued on Nov. 9, and on Nov. 13, 16 other federal prosecutors wrote to Barr to say he should rescind the memo because they had found no “substantial allegations of voting and vote tabulation irregularities.”

No one investigated anything after that. They gave it just four days.

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Mr. Barr’s phony declaration

The rebellion by his troops had an impact on the general. A couple weeks later, on Dec. 1, Barr famously declared, “To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”

It was a premature and reckless declaration, made after zero investigations were undertaken. And it was very damaging to the cause of election integrity.

For the self-proclaimed conspiracy debunkers in the media, Barr’s meaningless statement — along with the “60 dismissed court cases” canard and the Christopher Krebs “most secure election in American history” claim — would become the go-to proof of Biden’s clean victory over Trump. To this very day, we hear these words repeated robotically by lazy fact-checkers.

One final point: Barr’s statement referred to “fraud,” and fraud almost always requires intent. However, there are plenty of election irregularities that do not involve intent.

A county or precinct office may be violating election law without even realizing it. For example, the election office may be inadequately training staff, using unsecured computers, violating chain-of-custody rules, ignoring time limits, etc. Those violations of rules and laws are probably not fraud, but they still count, and they still require investigation.

Doesn’t Barr know that?

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Joe Fried is an Ohio-based CPA who performed and reviewed hundreds of certified financial audits in his 40-year career. More information can be found at and at