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Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Attorney General Bill Barr told AP on Tuesday that the Department of Justice has not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

Why it matters: It's a direct repudiation of President Trump's baseless claims of a "rigged" election from one of the most loyal members of his Cabinet.

What they're saying: "To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election," Barr told AP.

  • "There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven't seen anything to substantiate that," he added.

The big picture: The president's campaign and his allies have spent the past four weeks filing dozens of failed lawsuits and promoting conspiratorial allegations of widespread fraud.

  • Barr's comments are sure to prompt fury from the president, who has lashed out at other Republican officials who have contradicted his baseless election claims.
  • On Sunday, President Trump suggested in an interview with Fox News that the Justice Department could be "involved" in the conspiracy to "rig" the election.
  • "You would think if you’re in the FBI or Department of Justice, this is the biggest thing you could be looking at. Where are they? I’ve not seen anything," Trump said.

Between the lines: Earlier this month, Barr authorized U.S. attorneys to conduct investigations into alleged voter fraud if there are "clear and apparently-credible allegations of irregularities" that could change the outcome of a federal election in a particular state.

  • He told AP that the FBI and prosecutors are continuing to follow up on specific complaints, but have not seen any evidence yet that would overturn the results of the election.
  • “Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. They are not systemic allegations. And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on.”

The other side: Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis responded to Barr's comments in a statement Tuesday, claiming the Justice Department has not conducted "any semblance" of an investigation — including by auditing voting machines or using subpoena powers.

  • “Nonetheless, we will continue our pursuit of the truth through the judicial system and state legislatures, and continue toward the Constitution’s mandate and ensuring that every legal vote is counted and every illegal vote is not," Giuliani and Ellis added.

This story is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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Jan 25, 2021 - Axios Twin Cities

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