The Justice Department on Tuesday rescinded two voting-related memos issued by the Trump administration, including one that prompted a public corruption prosecutor to step down from his post because it upended decades of department policy on voter fraud investigations to not interfere in states’ vote certification.
Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson announced that the Justice Department will pull back the November memo from former Attorney General William Barr on vote fraud investigations and a second memo that gave Justice Department blessing to efforts by some states to pull back expansions of voting access, such as early or absentee voting, as a result of the Covid crisis.
Republicans in some states are trying to change laws after President Donald Trump falsely complained that they led to fraud.
Barr’s November 9 memo to the Justice Department’s District Election Officers, repealed a decades-old policy on how prosecutors in the unit investigated ballot fraud. Richard Pilger, who was the director of the District Election Officers, resigned and returned to his role in the public integrity section of the Justice Department.
At the time, Barr told prosecutors that they can bypass procedural steps during the investigation like interviewing witnesses during a period when they usually need permission from the District Election Officers to do so. Barr publicly pushed former Trump’s narrative of voter fraud until the former attorney general submitted his letter of resignation in December.
The memo moved 15 prosecutors from the District Election Officers unit to write a letter to Barr on November 13 urging him to rescind the policy change, saying it was “was not based on fact.”
“The Memorandum’s abrogation of the Department’s Election Non-Interference Policy is not based in fact,” they wrote. “It was developed and announced without consulting non-partisan career professionals in the field and at the Department. Finally, the timing of the Memorandum’s release thrusts career prosecutors into partisan politics.”
Prior to Barr’s December 23 departure from the office, he admitted that there was no evidence of voter fraud. Yet, submitted his last memo directing the Civil Rights Division “to adopt the following enforcement policy: a change in voting laws or procedures by a state or local jurisdiction which readopts prior laws or procedures shall be presumed lawful unless the prior regime was found to be unlawful,” according to the memo.