Richard Pilger, director of the Department of Election Crimes at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), has resigned after Attorney General William Barr today authorized the U.S. Attorney General’s Office to investigate allegations of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
Pilgrim, whose office oversees the voter fraud investigation, is said to have tendered his resignation within hours of Barr’s approval, the New York Times reported.
“After familiarizing myself with the new policy and its implications I regretfully must step down from my role as director of the Voter Crime Unit,” Pilger wrote in his letter of resignation. He will continue to serve as a line prosecutor in the Department of Public Integrity at the Ministry of Justice, prosecuting corruption cases.
In the campaign for the re-election of Republican President Donald Trump and various Republican politicians at the federal and state levels, it was alleged that fraudulent ballots had defeated the controversial presidential race in favor of Trump’s opponent, Democratic President-elect Joe Biden. These allegations have yet to be substantiated,
Barr’s authorization ignored a decade-long policy by the Justice Department to separate prosecution from actions that could affect the outcome of an election, the Times said. Barr sought to ensure that investigators complete their work before each state confirms its final election results and vote counts in November and December.
“The public’s knowledge of a criminal investigation could affect the outcome of election disputes and challenges in state courts. Accordingly, it is the general policy of the Ministry not to conduct open investigations,” states the Ministry of Justice’s long-standing election guidelines for prosecutors.
Last month, Barr lifted a DOJ ban on investigating election fraud in the months leading up to a national election, allowing prosecutors to request permission to conduct investigations directly from Barr, rather than from a professional prosecutor in the DOJ’s criminal division.
In the past, the DOJ banned such investigations until after the election was confirmed.
On Sunday night, Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, tweeted that his team would “prove anything” about “illegal voting” in at least five major swing states. The Trump campaign has filed several lawsuits in various states alleging that invalid ballots were counted after election day and helped Biden win the election.
Months before a single vote was cast, Trump repeatedly said that he would only lose the 2020 election if the Democrats cheated. On September 27, Politico wrote that the Trump campaign had hired dozens of lawyers from three major law firms and recruited thousands of volunteer lawyers willing to challenge the election results in 17 key states that were considered crucial to his reelection.
Washington Newsday contacted the Department of Justice to comment.