The Justice Department’s watchdog will investigate whether any department officials tried to improperly influence the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz said in a statement on Jan. 25 that the investigation will look into allegations concerning the conduct of current and former Justice Department (DOJ) officials but won’t extend to other government officials.
“The DOJ Office of the Inspector General (OIG) is initiating an investigation into whether any former or current DOJ official engaged in an improper attempt to have DOJ seek to alter the outcome of the 2020 Presidential Election,” Horowitz said.
Horowitz didn’t provide any specifics regarding the probe, noting that the purpose of the announcement is “to reassure the public that an appropriate agency is investigating the allegations.” He said the DOJ won’t comment further until the investigation is completed.
While it’s unclear what the probe is in reference to, the announcement comes days after The New York Times reported on Jan. 22 that a former assistant attorney general, Jeffrey Clark, had talked with then-President Donald Trump about ousting Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and bolstering Trump’s challenges to the results of the 2020 presidential election by having the DOJ begin a probe into allegations of voter fraud.
The Epoch Times has been unable to corroborate the claims made in the NY Times report.
Clark told the NY Times that its report contained unspecified inaccuracies and that he couldn’t speak to his conversations with Trump or department lawyers, adding that all his “official communications were consistent with law.”
A Trump adviser told the NY Times that the former president had pushed for investigating “rampant election fraud that has plagued our system for years” and “any assertion to the contrary is false and being driven by those who wish to keep the system broken.”
Rosen, a former deputy transportation secretary under Trump who was sworn in as deputy attorney general in May 2019, took the reins of the DOJ after then-Attorney General William Barr announced he would step down on Dec. 23.
In December, media reports suggested that Trump would push Rosen to name a special counsel to investigate Trump’s claims of election fraud.
A DOJ spokesman told Reuters earlier in January that Rosen had made no such special counsel appointments during his tenure. Rosen stepped down after the Jan. 20 inauguration of President Joe Biden.
While Barr in November authorized federal prosecutors to investigate “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities in the presidential election, he told The Associated Press in a Dec. 1, 2020, interview that the department hadn’t found any evidence of voter fraud that was widespread enough to affect the results of the election.
Barr later said he saw “no basis” for the federal government to seize voting machines used in the election and affirmed earlier comments that he saw no evidence of systemic fraud.
“I stand by that statement,” Barr said on Dec. 21, 2020, referring to comments made in the AP interview.
Barr also declined to appoint a special counsel to probe Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud.
Trump’s legal team and supporters filed dozens of contest-of-election lawsuits, most of which were dismissed on procedural grounds, with just one netting a win, striking down a deadline extension to correct mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania that were missing proof of identification.
Reuters contributed to this report.