Trump declines to say if he still has confidence in Attorney General Barr

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks next to U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr during a discussion with state attorneys general on social media abuses in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., September 23, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

By Jeff Mason and Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday declined to say whether he still had confidence in U.S. Attorney General William Barr after the Department of Justice chief this week said there was no sign of major fraud in last month’s presidential election.

Barr told the Associated Press in an interview on Tuesday the department found no evidence of widespread voter fraud. But Trump, speaking to reporters at the White House, said Barr had not searched for any evidence.

“Well he hasn’t done anything. So, he hasn’t looked,” Trump said in the Oval Office. “They haven’t looked very hard, which is a disappointment to be honest with you, because it’s massive fraud.”

Trump’s legal team has accused Barr of failing to conduct a proper inquiry or audit voting machines, a task that does not fall to the Justice Department during an election.

Barr told the AP there had been confusion over the department’s role in U.S. elections, and that civil lawsuits like those being pursued by Trump’s campaign were the appropriate legal venue.

Asked if he still had confidence in Barr, Trump said: “Ask me that in a number of weeks from now. They should be looking at all of this fraud. This is not civil, he thought it was civil. This is not civil, this is criminal stuff. This is very bad criminal stuff.”

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on the president’s remarks.

“We found far more votes than we need in almost all of these states. And I think I can say in all of these states, far more votes than we need to win every one of them,” Trump said.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Sarah N. Lynch; additional reporting by Steve Holland and Susan Heavey; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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