It’s fun to watch Trump administration officials squirm when they are publicly called out on their lies on live TV.
When the squirmer is Attorney General William Barr — who seems to think his main client is Donald Trump rather than the people of the United States whom he’s supposed to serve — being asked to provide evidence that the Republican claims of mail-in ballots being subject to massive fraud are the least bit rooted in actual, you know, evidence, rather than being carefully yanked out of their own self-interested rear-ends, be careful of the unbridled rage that you just might encounter.
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer got William Barr hot under the collar today when the venerable news anchor decided to fact check some of the ludicrous voter fraud conspiracies that the attorney general was touting on Trump’s behalf.
Blitzer asked Barr why Trump was encouraging his supporters to commit voter fraud — explaining that the president’s interview in which he urged his followers to vote by mail and then verify that “the system works” by visiting their polling place on election day to check to see if their vote had been counted and casting a second ballot if it had not — in a proposal that is patently illegal under every states’ voting regulations.
“What he’s saying is he’s trying to make the point that the ability to monitor this system is not good and if it was so good if you tried to vote a second time, you would be caught if you voted in-person,” Barr tried to explain away the profoundly awful legal advice.
Blitzer may not be a lawyer, but he knew for certain that what Trump and Barr were advising wouldn’t pass legal muster in any U.S. court of law.
“That would be illegal if somebody mailed in a ballot and then actually showed up to vote in person,” said Blitzer. “That would be illegal.”
Barr responded in a way that one would not expect from a man who is in his second appointment as U.S. Attorney General and head of the federal Justice Department.
“I don’t know what the law in the particular state says,” said Barr, in a highly evasive reply.
Blitzer had a quick rejoinder to further corner the prevaricating Trump administration official.
“Is there any state that says you can vote twice?” Blitzer rapidly followed up.
“There are some that maybe you can change your vote up to a particular term,” Barr responded. “Why are you asking me what he’s saying?”
“He doesn’t believe in the mail-in voting and you’re the attorney general of the United States,” Blitzer archly replied.
That was enough to set the attorney general off on an angry tirade.
“Wolf, this is sort of cheap talk to get around the fundamental problem, which is the bipartisan commission chaired by Jimmy Carter and James Baker set back in 2009 that mail-in voting is fraught with the risk of fraud and coercion,” Barr indignantly shot back.
Blitzer tried to interject with another fact check, but Barr wouldn’t let his host get a word in edgewise.
“Let me talk!” he yelled. “Please. And since that time, there have been in the newspapers, in networks, academic studies saying it is open to fraud and coercion. The only time the narrative changed is after this administration came in. But elections that have been held with mail have found substantial fraud and coercion. For example, we indicted someone in Texas, 1,700 ballots collected from people who could vote. He made them out and voted for the person replaced the same address with several generations of occupants. Do you think that’s a way to run a vote?”
The CNN host tried to point to the lack of any concrete evidence of electoral malfeasance in the many states that have been employing mail-in ballots regularly for years.
“The only thing I’m saying is that so far we haven’t seen widespread fraud,” said Blitzer.
“So far we haven’t tried it,” Barr replied with perhaps a Freudian slip of enormous proportions.
Blitzer also challenged Barr’s assertion that mail-in voting could be hacked by a foreign country counterfeiting thousands of fake ballots and somehow getting them sent with an American postmark and perverting the results of the election, asking the attorney general “What are you basing that on?”
“As I’ve said repeatedly, I’m basing that on logic,” Barr answered, eschewing a legal argument.
“Pardon?,” Blitzer replied increduously.
“Logic,” Barr repeated.
“But have you seen any evidence?,” the CNN anchor probed.
“No,” was the only answer that the attorney general could give.
In the bizarre world of the Trump administration, no evidence is needed for that which they want you to blindly accept.
Barr, like his boss the president, seem to believe that bluster and volume substitute for the truth when it comes to their desperately self-interested claims of rampant voter fraud in elections with a significant number of mail-in ballots.
With electronic touchscreen voting systems subject to hacking, mysterious disappearances of large blocks of ballots from African American neighborhoods, and reprogrammed touch screens that somehow change your selection on their own, hand-marked paper ballots, like those used for mail-in voting, are the most secure and verifiable method of conducting a free and fair election according to most voting technology experts like Jennifer Cohn, whose Twitter feed you should be following if you’re not already.
Pay no attention to what partisan Republican officials are saying about mail-in voting.
It’s the method that Trump himself uses to cast his ballot, and GOP officials across the country are frantically trying to convince their party faithful that it’s only Democrats who shouldn’t be using mail-in ballots for fear that Republican seniors won’t vote at all over fears of catching the coronavirus in crowded polling places.
Vote by mail and vote for Joe Biden…and every other Democrat on the ticket.
You can watch some of the exchange between Wolf Blitzer and Attorney General William Barr in the video excerpt below
Original reporting by Sarah K. Burris at RawStory.
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Vinnie Longobardo is the Managing Editor of Occupy Democrats. He's a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.