- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 3, 2020

Tensions between Republican lawmakers and Attorney General William Barr reached a boiling point Thursday as a group of conservative congressmen decried the nation’s top law enforcement official as “missing in action” in response to allegations of voter fraud in the 2020 election.

Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus held a press conference one day after Mr. Barr said the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread voting irregularities, even as President Trump and his allies continue to question the election’s outcome.

House Freedom Caucus Chair Andy Biggs, Arizona Republican, said they asked Mr. Barr a month ago to investigate allegations of voter fraud, but have seen no evidence a probe was even initiated.

“I feel that [Mr. Barr] is missing in action,” Mr. Biggs said. “The reality is that he is capable, he’s qualified and he’s got a department of capable, qualified individuals. We need them in action from about a month ago. We are running out of time. He needs to get them going.”

A Justice Department spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Republicans have ratcheted up their criticism of Mr. Barr since he contradicted the president’s unproven claims of “massive fraud” and a “rigged election.”

Hours after Mr. Barr’s comments to The Associated Press, a Justice Department spokesperson tried to lessen the damage by saying the department has not completed its election fraud probe and therefore “not announced an affirmative finding of no fraud.”

But the attempt to claw back the attorney general’s remarks did little to quell Republican anger.

The president and Mr. Barr reportedly had a lengthy, “contentious” meeting inside the West Wing this week after Mr. Barr’s remarks, which caused Mr. Trump to erupt in anger, according to media reports.

On Thursday, Mr. Trump refused to say if he had confidence in his handpicked attorney general.

“Ask me that in a number of weeks from now,” the president told reporters during an event in the Oval Office. “He hasn’t done anything. They haven’t looked very hard, which is a disappointment. They should be looking at all of this fraud. This is very bad, criminal stuff.”

Members of the Freedom Caucus echoed the president’s call for Mr. Barr to more aggressively probe such allegations.

“What’s he actually doing?” asked Rep. Randy Weber, Texas Republican. “Why are election materials and voting machines not being gathered and preserved for investigation?”

“This is not ‘a’ hill to die on. This is ‘the’ hill to die on,” Mr. Weber continued. “This is our highest priority, Mr. Attorney General, bar none.”

Rep. Warren Davidson, Ohio Republican, went so far as to accuse the Justice Department of “engaging in voter suppression” by not thoroughly investigating election fraud.

Asked if he still had confidence in Mr. Barr, Rep. Louie Gohmert, Texas Republican, responded, “I used to.”

Mr. Weber said he sees a double standard in the Justice Department’s swift response to allegations that Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign colluded with Russia compared to the slow-walk approach to allegations of voter irregularities in 2020.

“The Justice Department was quick to initiate an unsubstantiated investigation into the Donald J. Trump administration, yet now with 545 sworn declarations and 14,200 incident reports filed in the states, the DOJ appears to be distancing themselves from these legitimate claims,” he said.

⦁ Dave Boyer contributed to this story

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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