WASHINGTON/WILMINGTON, Del. — President Donald Trump will push ahead on Tuesday with legal challenges to the results of last week’s election after US Attorney General William Barr told federal prosecutors to look into any “substantial” allegations of voting irregularities.
Barr’s directive to prosecutors prompted the top lawyer overseeing voter fraud investigations to resign in protest. It came after days of attacks on the integrity of the election by Trump and Republican allies, who have alleged widespread voter fraud, without providing evidence.
Trump has not conceded the election to Democrat Joe Biden, who on Saturday secured more than the 270 votes in the Electoral College needed to win the presidency.
Biden’s transition team, meanwhile, is considering legal action over a federal agency’s delay in recognizing the Democrat’s victory over Trump in last week’s election, a Biden official said on Monday.
The General Services Administration (GSA) normally recognizes a presidential candidate when it becomes clear who has won an election so that a transition of power can begin.
That has not yet happened despite US television and news networks declaring Biden the winner on Saturday after he secured enough electoral votes to secure the presidency.
The law does not clearly spell out when the GSA must act, but Biden transition officials say their victory is clear and a delay is not justified, even as Trump refuses to concede defeat.
The Trump campaign has filed several lawsuits claiming the election results were flawed.
Judges have tossed out lawsuits in Michigan and Georgia, and experts say Trump’s legal efforts have little chance of changing the election result.
Barr told prosecutors on Monday that “fanciful or far-fetched claims” should not be a basis for investigation and his letter did not indicate the Justice Department had uncovered voting irregularities affecting the outcome of the election.
But he did say he was authorizing prosecutors to “pursue substantial allegations” of irregularities of voting and the counting of ballots.
Richard Pilger, who for years has served as director of the Election Crimes Branch, announced in an internal email he was resigning from his post after he read “the new policy and its ramifications.”
Biden’s campaign said Barr was fueling Trump’s far-fetched allegations of fraud.
“Those are the very kind of claims that the president and his lawyers are making unsuccessfully every day, as their lawsuits are laughed out of one court after another,” said Bob Bauer, a senior adviser to Biden.
Earlier on Monday, Trump’s campaign filed a lawsuit to block Pennsylvania officials from certifying Biden’s victory in the battleground state.
It alleged the state’s mail-in voting system violated the U.S. Constitution by creating “an illegal two-tiered voting system” where voting in person was subject to more oversight than voting by mail.
It was filed against Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and the boards of elections in Democratic-leaning counties that include Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
Boockvar’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said the latest lawsuit in Pennsylvania was unlikely to succeed and “reads like a rehash of many of the arguments the Trump legal team has made in and outside the courtroom.”
Trump’s re-election team asked for patience on Monday to pursue allegations of voter fraud. “This election is not over, far from it,” Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, told reporters at a briefing in what she said was her capacity as a Trump campaign adviser.
Biden, who has begun work on his transition to the White House, will give a speech on Monday defending the Affordable Care Act, the landmark healthcare law popularly known as Obamacare, as the US Supreme Court hears arguments on a lawsuit backed by the Trump administration to invalidate it.