The Justice Department told federal prosecutors in an email early on Wednesday that the law allowed them to send armed federal officers to ballot-counting locations around the country to investigate potential voter fraud, The New York Times reports on Wednesday.
“The email created the specter of the federal government intimidating local election officials or otherwise intervening in vote tallying amid calls by President Trump to end the tabulating in states where he was trailing in the presidential race, former officials said,” the Times reported. “A law prohibits the stationing of armed federal officers at polls on Election Day. But a top official told prosecutors that the department interpreted the statute to mean that they could send armed federal officers to polling stations and locations where ballots were being counted anytime after that.”
The official, Richard P. Donoghue, told prosecutors in an email that he sent around 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday that the statute “does not prevent armed federal law enforcement persons from responding to, investigate, or prevent federal crimes at closed polling places or at other locations where votes are being counted.”
Donoghue, the No. 2 at the office of the deputy attorney general, sent his email about half an hour before Trump falsely declared himself the winner of the election and began calling for election officials to stop counting ballots.
“We want all voting to stop,” Trump said at the White House.
He said, without offering details, that his campaign would “be going to the U.S. Supreme Court” over the election count.
Trump has launched a series of lawsuits demanding that the counting stop in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia.