Western Pa. congressmen join rebuke of U.S. Attorney General William Barr

December 3, 2020
In The News

A bloc of 39 congressmen — including five Pennsylvania Republicans who were reelected Nov. 3 — lashed out at Attorney General William Barr in a letter expressing dismay at “the shocking lack of action” stemming from the Justice Department’s investigation of allegations of fraud in the election.

The letter was posted the same day Barr announced that Justice Department investigators had uncovered no evidence of fraud that would change the outcome of the election.

“To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election,” Barr told The Associated Press.

U.S. Reps. John Joyce, R-Blair County, and Guy Reschenthaler, R-Peters Township were among those who urged Barr to take a closer look at what they claim are election irregularities. Both are staunch supporters of President Trump who appeared on stage with the president at campaign rallies in Western Pennsylvania.

Neither Joyce nor Reschenthaler responded to requests to detail what they believe threw the Pennsylvania election into question.

Tuesday’s announcement from Barr, who previously warned of the potential for fraud in widespread mail-in balloting, left many of the president’s supporters stunned.

The congressmen joined Trump and his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, in discounting Barr’s findings.

The president continues to claim he won and has repeated unfounded claims of widespread fraud and sweeping conspiracies to steal the election.

Like Joyce and Reschenthaler, Pennsylvania Republican Reps. Fred Keller, R-Snyder, Scott Perry, R-York, and Dan Meuser, R-Luzerne, signed off on the letter. All five of them were re-elected as Trump suffered an 81,000 vote defeat to Democrat Joe Biden in Pennsylvania.

“There are a number of anomalies, statistical improbabilities and accusations of fraud that bring the election results in several states into question,” the congressmen wrote. “Affidavits of irregularities in the voting and tabulation processes have been sworn in a number of jurisdictions. Threats of retribution by leftist groups with a history of violence have been made against election officials and attorneys for President Trump. And a number of last-minute changes in balloting and counting requirements raise questions about the overall integrity of federal elections.”

Although Pennsylvania Republicans have reported receiving numerous allegations of election irregularities, federal courts here have dismissed the Trump campaign’s legal challenges to the election as lacking in evidence.

“Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy. Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so,” Judge Stephanos Bibas, a Trump appointee to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, wrote in the Nov. 27 ruling that rejected the campaign’s most recent appeal in Pennsylvania. “Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here.”

Many of the allegations in Pennsylvania referred to issues with dates and signatures on mail-in ballots and complaints from poll watchers that they were not given adequate access to the count.

At a hearing in Gettysburg last week, Giuliani conflated primary election reports with general election returns to falsely claim Pennsylvania officials had counted 700,000 more mail-in ballots than they distributed. Sidney Powell, a lawyer for the Trump campaign who has since been dismissed, alleged voting systems were flipping votes.

Barr said Tuesday his office had looked into claims such as those Powell voiced.

“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. And the (Department of Homeland Security) and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that,” he said.

Nonetheless, the president’s supporters continue to maintain their attacks on the election.

Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Butler, did not sign Tuesday’s letter, but is continuing his own attack on the outcome of the election in Pennsylvania.

Kelly, the lead plaintiff in a suit seeking to have Pennsylvania’s expansive 2019 mail-in ballot law ruled unconstitutional, is seeking a hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court shot down the complaint Saturday and dismissed a lower court ruling halting the certification of the vote here. In its ruling, the state high court said the challenge was filed long after the expiration date for such challenges, and the plaintiffs had failed to prove a single ballot fraudulent.

In a new appeal filed Wednesday, Kelly asked the state Supreme Court to reinstate the lower court’s stay on election certification, pending the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision whether to hear his appeal.