As Dallas News reported, Cruz has used the language of a contest between legal and illegal (or fraudulent) votes. Like McConnell, Cruz has also turned the issue into an attack on the media. Graham has pledged the committee he currently chairs (Senate Judiciary) will investigate voting irregularities and even asserted the Trump campaign has evidence that dead people voted. Election experts told FactCheck.org that votes from dead people happen rarely, but that they are often due to clerical errors, like voters with identical names, and that claims about an infinitesimal fraction of illegitimate votes are often overblown.
“Yes, every once in a while, it turns out that someone votes in the name of someone who’s passed away,” Justin Levitt, a voter fraud expert who’s a law professor at Loyola Law School, told FactCheck.org. “A handful of votes in a sea of millions. It’s not okay, but it doesn’t swing results.”
William Barr sent a signal to the DOJ
Monday night, Attorney General William Barr issued a memo authorizing the investigation of “substantial allegations of voting and vote tabulation irregularities prior to the certification of elections in your jurisdictions in certain cases, as I have already done in specific instances.”
“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,” Barr wrote.
Barr’s memo may seem routine on its face, but it prompted a strong reaction from the DOJ’s top prosecutor of election crimes. CNN reported that Richard Pilger resigned his post as director of the DOJ’s Election Crimes Branch in protest of Barr’s authorization, which he told colleagues in an email was in conflict with “the 40-year-old Non-Interference Policy for ballot fraud investigations in the period prior to elections becoming certified and uncontested.”
“Having familiarized myself with the new policy and its ramifications… I must regretfully resign from my role as Director of the Election Crimes Branch,” Pilger wrote, according to the Times.
Due in part to its unusual nature, speculation abounds about the intention behind Barr’s memo. Vanita Gupta, an ACLU alum who helmed the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division during the Obama administration, called it “scare tactics” to aid in “disruption, disinformation, and sowing chaos.”
Barr isn’t the only Trump administration cabinet official offering concerning rhetoric about Trump relinquishing the presidency. On Tuesday, November 10, a reporter asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about his department’s engagement with the Biden transition team and whether a delay in the transition of power could pose a risk to national security.
“There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration,” Pompeo said, shaking his head before chuckling to himself after finishing the thought. Then he said, “We’re ready. The world is watching what’s taking place here. We’re going to count all the votes. When the process is complete, there’ll be electors selected. There’s a process. The Constitution lays it out pretty clearly.”
Then Pompeo said, “The world should have every confidence that the transition necessary” would take place to ensure the State Department could function on January 20 after the inauguration. Pompeo said the country should count “every legal vote” but not votes that weren’t “lawful.”
So, is Trump really attempting a coup?
In short, yes, it looks that way, but it’s not a very impressive one, so far.
Based on Trump’s attempts to delegitimize votes before and after Election Day and his concerns that the Supreme Court would need a ninth justice to decide any election-related case, we should’ve expected the president to attempt to exploit close election results and the time it takes to certify results.