White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany takes questions during a press briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., December 2, 2020.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
President Donald Trump‘s spokeswoman refused to say Wednesday whether Trump still has faith in Attorney General William Barr, a day after Barr said the Justice Department has not found evidence that widespread ballot fraud led to President-elect Joe Biden‘s victory.
Barr’s statement badly undercut baseless allegations by Trump and his campaign legal team that the Republican president was swindled out of reelection by voting fraud.
“To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election,” Barr told the Associated Press in an interview Tuesday.
That interview sparked immediate speculation that Trump would fire Barr, who until Tuesday was seen as a staunchly loyal supporter of the president.
During a press conference Wednesday, a reporter asked White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, “Does [Trump] still have faith in Attorney General Bill Barr? Does he still have confidence in Bill Barr?”
US President Donald Trump (L) shakes hands with US Attorney General William Barr (R) during the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor presentation ceremony at the White House in Washington, DC on May 22, 2019.
Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images
McEnany did not directly answer that question.
“If we have any personnel announcements, I’ll let you know,” she replied.
That answer from Trump press secretaries in the past has sometimes been followed by the termination of the administration official being asked about.
McEnany said that she had not spoken to the president about the attorney general’s statement, after a reporter asked if Trump was upset by Barr’s comments.
The press secretary said she was unaware of whether Trump has spoken to the attorney general since the AP’s interview was published.
“I know the attorney general was here yesterday for a preplanned meeting with the chief of staff [Mark Meadows] and they discussed an array of issues but I’m not aware if the president has spoken to him directly,” McEnany said.
The Justice Department, which Barr leads, did not immediately respond to CNBC’s requests for comment on McEnany’s remarks.
Trump has falsely claimed that he beat the Democratic challenger Biden, and has promoted a number of unproven conspiracy theories while arguing that large-scale ballot fraud tipped the voting tallies in battleground states in Biden’s favor.
However, Biden is projected to win 306 votes in the Electoral College, 36 more than he needs to secure victory in the presidential election. The Electoral College is scheduled to meet and vote on Dec. 14.
Legal and election experts say Trump has little, if any hope of avoiding defeat through either lawsuits or recounts, or through what would be a radical move by a handful of state legislatures to invalidate the popular vote outcome in their respective states.
McEnany was asked Wednesday whether Trump still believes he has a path to win reelection, even after the certification of Biden’s victories in all of the battleground states that the president would need to win to secure a second term.
“The president has said that he believes all legal votes should be counted and all illegal votes should not be counted and in fact the campaign is pursuing that litigation,” McEnany answered.
“I can’t get into the details of that litigation here, but they still do have active cases in Nevada and Wisconsin,” she said.
The Trump campaign and its allies have lost or withdrawn dozens of lawsuits in multiple states related to the election, failing to invalidate any votes for Biden.
The Trump campaign has said it will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal of a Pennsylvania federal court case that it badly lost, in which the campaign sought to invalidate millions of ballots in that state.