An official from the Justice Department told ABC News Friday that Attorney General Bill Barr “personally briefed” Donald Trump about a controversial DOJ investigation into a handful of previously discarded military mail-in ballots that were recovered in Pennsylvania before it was announced.
The president and White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany amplified those claims. Meanwhile, the U.S. Attorney’s Office overseeing the investigation released a public statement on the investigation that required almost immediate revision due to factual errors.
According to the ABC report, the personal briefing with Barr took place just prior to Trump going on air for an interview with Fox News Radio where he erroneously touted the investigation as vindicating his false claims about mail-in voting being easily susceptible to widespread fraud.
“These ballots are a horror show,” Trump said during the interview Thursday. “They found six ballots in an office yesterday in a garbage can. They were Trump ballots — eight ballots in an office yesterday in — but in a certain state and they were — they had Trump written on it, and they were thrown in a garbage can.”
During Thursday’s White House press briefing, McEnany also insinuated that the DOJ investigation substantiated Trump’s claims that Democrats were trying to steal the election.
“I can confirm for you that Trump ballots, ballots for the president were found in Pennsylvania,” McEnany said. “I believe you should be getting more information on that shortly. Here in the last 24 hours, they were found cast aside.”
ABC reported that “Barr was made aware of the investigation in Luzerne County after the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania sought guidance from Main Justice on what steps to take going forward.”
The eventual response was severely bungled, and minutes after Trump repeated unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud to a gaggle of reporters, calling it “evidence of a whole big scam,” the Justice Department began walking back its claims.
Further investigation has yet to reveal foul play.
“It was explained to investigators the envelopes used for official overseas, military, absentee and mail-in ballot requests are so similar, that the staff believed that adhering to the protocol of preserving envelopes unopened would cause them to miss such ballot requests. Our interviews further revealed that this issue was a problem in the primary election –therefore a known issue– and that the problem has not been corrected,” U.S. Attorney David Freed wrote Thursday evening in a letter to county election officials.