Trump allies Barr, Giuliani at odds on discredited election fraud claims

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Attorney General William Barr meets with members of the St. Louis Police Department, in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., October 15, 2020. Jeff Roberson/Pool via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Cracks emerged between two of President Donald Trump's key legal allies on Tuesday as Attorney General William Barr said his department had found no evidence of the widespread voter fraud Trump alleges, while Rudolph Giuliani vowed to continue his search.

Barr made his comments in an interview with the Associated Press shortly before revealing he had elevated federal prosecutor John Durham to the status of special counsel and assigned him to keep probing the origins of the U.S. government's own probe into the role that Russia played in Trump's 2016 election win.

"To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election," the news service quoted Barr as saying.

Giuliani blasted Barr for failing to properly investigate evidence he said they had uncovered of widespread voter fraud.

"With all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn't been any semblance of a Department of Justice investigation," Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor, and colleague Jenna Ellis said in a joint statement.

Democratic President-elect Joe Biden beat Republican Trump by a wide margin in the Nov. 3 election, by 306 to 232 votes in the state-by-state Electoral College that chooses the president, as well as by more than 6.2 million ballots in the popular vote.

Despite that, Trump has repeatedly claimed without evidence that the election was marred by widespread fraud, allegations that have been repeatedly rejected by state and federal officials.

Dunham's appointment as special counsel gives the top federal prosecutor in Connecticut more independence, subjecting him to the same rules that governed the May 2017 appointment of Robert Mueller to investigate whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russia. Dunham will continue to investigate whether top Obama-era intelligence and law enforcement officials committed crimes when they launched a probe into Trump's 2016 campaign.

The appointment took effect on Oct. 19, according to a copy of the appointment order.

Trump has pursued a series of legal challenges to the results of the Nov. 3 election in numerous states, although none has so far resulted in any meaningful gains for the president. Judges have rejected most of the lawsuits, expressing skepticism about claims that the election results are illegitimate.

Barr last month told federal prosecutors to pursue investigations into credible allegations of election fraud, but warned them to avoid probes into "fanciful or far-fetched claims."

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis)

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