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In 2016, FBI investigations overshadowed an election. In 2020, they helped build public confidence

In September, contrary to all evidence to the contrary, Barr reiterated Trump's claims about the postal vote, calling it "very open to cheating and coercion, "reckless and dangerous" and "playing with fire".

And in November Barr ordered federal attorneys to investigate "serious allegations" of election fraud, if they existed, according to an Associated Press report last fall.

Some working officials at the Justice Department were appalled, including the head of the Department's Public Integrity Division (PIN), based on reports from Politico. When Corey Amundson, a Justice Department official who spent two decades in law enforcement, learned the FBI was preparing to conduct interviews on a Georgia matter, he reluctantly.

The issue concerned a viral video that Trump allies claimed was showing poll workers at an Atlanta-based state farm allegedly pulling ballots out of “suitcases”. But Georgia's foreign minister had already investigated and settled the matter.

"Undersecretary investigators have conducted pre-recorded interviews with the individuals in question and such interviews have reportedly found nothing to suggest shameful activity related to the integrity of the election," Amundson wrote to an FBI official on Dec. 7. "The FBI & # 39; questioned again & # 39; these individuals, at this point in time and in the current circumstances, risks great damage to the reputation of the ministry, including the possibility of appearing to be motivated by partisan concerns. "

However, Barr's November memo had already directed the FBI to open fraud investigations and get them resolved faster than in the past. The breach of protocol had also caused consternation in the department's crime department.

In response to Amundson's email, a few hours later a senior FBI official emailed the DOJ's political commissioner Richard Donoghue, who became a central figure in the post-election drama.

"That puts us in a bad position," wrote David Bowdich, the FBI's assistant in command. "I have the feeling that we are operating in an antiquated thought process here. Everyone understands that we shouldn't make such inquiries before the election, but we are in this election cycle right now where these kinds of allegations are important." review, especially when many in the country are still questioning the results. "

Donoghue replied several hours later and concluded it was Barr's call and the attorney general had spoken.

"The fact is, millions of Americans believe (rightly or wrongly) that something unexpected has happened, and it is up to the Department to conduct a limited investigation in time to reassure the American people that we have examined these allegations." wrote Donoghue.

"If we come to the same conclusion as the GA SOS, then that should give the public more confidence in the GA election results," Donoghue continued. "If we come to a different conclusion, we will deal with it."

Donoghue ended up sympathizing with the FBI's seemingly hopeless situation.

"Sorry for getting you and your team involved in this again," he said. "Unfortunately, that's the reality of working here these days."

On December 1, Barr announced to the Associated Press that the department had investigated certain fraud allegations and "To date, we have not seen any fraud on the scale that could lead to a different outcome in the elections."

The email exchange on the unsubstantiated allegation of the voting slip in Georgia shows that federal investigators continued their investigation after Barr's statement in early December contesting Trump. Barr announced his resignation in mid-December, leaving Jeffrey Rosen, who would later become assistant attorney general, and his senior deputy Donoghue to suffer as a result of Trump's increasingly desperate pressure campaign.

But ultimately, federal investigators eschewing a number of Trump's ridiculous fraud allegations helped build Americans' confidence in the election, which is still based on reality. This public trust has proven particularly critical as a sizeable majority of Republicans continue to believe, unfounded, that the election was stolen.

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