Attorney General William Barr late Wednesday evening announced the Department of Justice will investigate "substantial allegations" of voter fraud before the 2020 presidential election is certified.
According to a memo to U.S. attorney that The Associated Press obtained, investigations “may be conducted if there are clear and apparently-credible allegations of irregularities that, if true, could potentially impact the outcome of a federal election in an individual State.”
Barr stressed the importance of for officials to demonstrate "fairness, neutrality and non-partisanship."
"While serious allegations should be handled with great care, specious, speculative, fanciful or far-fetched claims should not be a basis for initiating federal inquires," Barr wrote. "Nothing here should be taken as any indication that the Department has concluded that voting irregularities have impacted the outcome of any election."
The attorney general made clear he is providing the authority for U.S. attorneys to investigate "allegations of voting irregularities" in a timely manner so "all of the American people, regardless of their preferred candidate or party, can have full confidence in the results of our elections."
States that want an investigation launched have until December 8th to file them, including recounts and court battles over the results. The Electoral College is scheduled to meet on December 14th to finalize the election's outcome.
BREAKING: AG Bill Barr directs U.S. Attorneys and others to pursue allegations of voting irregularities:— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) November 10, 2020
“While serious allegations should be handled with great care, specious, speculative, fanciful or far-fetched claims should not be a basis for initiating federal inquiries.” pic.twitter.com/yhtCWwwCiu
The announcement comes after the Trump campaign filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania over "two-tiered voting," the idea that there were different verification processes for in-person and mail-in voting. The Trump campaign believes that in-person voters were subjected to standard identification processes, like registering to vote and providing a valid form of identification. Those who chose to vote by mail allegedly did not receive the same degree of verification.
Over the weekend, a group of 39 Republican congressmen sent a letter to Barr, asking him for this kind of investigation.
This is a breaking news story and has been updated with additional information.