Businessinsider.com reports: Only the attorney general has the authority to appoint a special counsel. On Monday, Barr, who’s set to leave the DOJ on Wednesday, threw cold water on the idea of doing so for either matter.
“To the extent that there’s an investigation, I think that it’s being handled responsibly and professionally currently within the department. And to this point, I have not seen a reason to appoint a special counsel, and I have no plan to do so before I leave,” Barr saidof the Hunter Biden investigation.
Barr also said he would not appoint a special counsel to investigate Trump’s baseless claims of widespread fraud in the election.
“If I thought a special counsel at this stage was the right tool and was appropriate, I would name one. But I haven’t, and I’m not going to,” Barr said.
Over the weekend, The New York Times reported that Trump had floated appointing Sidney Powell — a conservative attorney who has consistently pushed conspiracy theories and false claims of fraud in court cases seeking to overturn the results of the election — as a special counsel to investigate election fraud.
The Times also reported that the idea of Trump issuing an executive order to seize voting machines had been raised, in furtherance of the baseless conspiracy theory that machines were hacked or compromised to “switch” votes from Trump to Biden.
The vast majority of voters in the United States and all in key swing states voted with hand-marked paper ballots, ballot-marking devices, machines that produce a paper ballot, or machines with a voter-verifiable and auditable paper trail.
Barr said on Monday that he saw no basis for the federal government to seize any such machines. Some legal experts said over the weekend that, outside of a criminal investigation, the federal government likely has little to no authority to seize or impound property owned by states and localities, like voting equipment.
Barr also substantially broke with Trump in an interview with The Associated Press in early December in which he said the DOJ had “not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election” and found no evidence that voting machines were compromised.
“There’s been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results,” Barr said. “And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”