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Photo: Jeff Roberson - Pool/Getty Images

Attorney General Bill Barr has 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, AP first reported and Axios can confirm.

Why it matters: President Trump has refused to concede the election to President-elect Joe Biden, alleging a conspiracy of widespread voting fraud and corruption by Democratic election officials. He has thus far not provided specific evidence for his claims, which have been shot down by both Democratic and Republican secretaries of state.

Between the lines: Barr, who has long been a target of criticism by Democrats who allege he has politicized the Justice Department, testified in June that he has "no reason to think" that the 2020 election will be rigged.

  • He has cast doubt on the reliability of mass mail-in ballots — baselessly claiming that foreign adversaries could sabotage the vote — but has cited "common sense" rather than any specific evidence of fraud.

What they're saying: “While it is imperative that credible allegations be addressed in a timely and effective manner, it is equally imperative that Department personnel exercise appropriate caution and maintain the Department’s absolute commitment to fairness, neutrality and non-partisanship," Barr wrote in a memo to U.S. attorneys.

  • "You are the most senior leaders in the United States Department of Justice and I trust you to exercise great care and judgment in addressing allegations of voting and vote tabulation irregularities."
  • "While serious allegations should be handled with great care, specious, speculative, fanciful or far-fetched claims should not be a basis for initiating federal inquiries."

What to watch: States have until Dec. 8 to settle controversies and disputes over elections, including recounts and lawsuits, before members of the Electoral College meet to vote on Dec. 14. The Trump campaign has requested a recount on Wisconsin and has filed dozens of lawsuits in battleground states.

Read Barr's memo.

Go deeper

Updated Jan 25, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Dominion files $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani

Photo: Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems filed a defamation lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani on Monday seeking $1.3 billion in damages for his "demonstrably false” allegations about the company's voting machines.

Why it matters: Giuliani led former President Trump's efforts to overturn the results of the election and spread the baseless conspiracy theory that Dominion's voting machines flipped votes from Trump to Joe Biden.

Updated 5 hours ago - Sports

Olympics dashboard

Silver medalist Lilly King of Team USA (left) embraces gold medalist Tatjana Schoenmaker of Team South Africa on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Women's 200m breaststroke final on July 30. Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images

🥇 : U.S. gymnast Suni Lee wins gold in the women's individual all-around

🚣‍♀️: Team USA women's eight rowing fails to reach the podium

🤸🏾‍♀️: Simone Biles reacts to "love and support" after withdrawing from all-around gymnastics and team finals, citing her mental health

🏊: Olympic swimmer Ryan Murphy wins Silver in 200m

📷: In photos: Tokyo Olympics day 6 highlights

🗓: The Olympic events to watch today

🏃‍: Female Olympians push back against double standard in uniforms

Go deeper: Full Axios coverage

Former Michigan Sen. Carl Levin dies at 87

Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) in 2014. He died Thursday. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) died Thursday, his family and the Levin Center at Wayne Law — which bore his name — confirmed. He was 87.

Why it matters: The Detroit native served for 36 years in the U.S. Senate, serving twice as chairman of the Armed Services Committee and is credited with helping overturn the military's “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” rule.

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