President Trump on Thursday criticized Attorney General William Barr, accusing the head of the Justice Department of not thoroughly examining debunked claims of widespread voter fraud.
When asked whether he still had confidence in Barr, a Trump ally who has in the past taken what critics describe as an unusually political role in the Justice Department, the president said: "Ask me that in a number of weeks from now."
Trump, whose presidency ends on Jan. 20, made his remarks at a ceremony presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Lou Holtz, the legendary college football coach and outspoken Trump supporter. The president has not yet acknowledged his election loss to President-elect Joe Biden and has continued to allege — without evidence — that the election was somehow rigged in Biden's favor — even though other Republican candidates across the nation performed far better than expected.
Earlier this week, Barr told The Associated Press that the Justice Department found no evidence of widespread fraud in this year's election, directly contradicting the president's claims.
"To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election," he said.
Trump on Thursday said: "They should be looking at all of this fraud. This is not civil. This is criminal stuff. This is very bad criminal stuff."
The Trump campaign's repeated efforts to seek judicial relief for its claims have been overwhelmingly rejected by the courts, but that hasn't prevented the president from continuing to make his claims or seek further court action to invalidate voting in key states.
At the Holtz event, Trump was also asked about efforts in Congress to reach a deal on a COVID-19 relief package. He said he will support a deal that is brokered, adding: "I believe they're getting close to a deal."
On Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer endorsed a $908 billion proposal unveiled a day earlier by a group of moderate lawmakers from the Senate and the House as a way to reach a deal. The move is significant because the top congressional Democrats had insisted on a much larger package closer to $2 trillion, with additional elements not included in the moderate plan. The bipartisan bill rolled out Wednesday was pitched as an interim step to get money to states, small businesses, unemployed Americans and as a bridge to another package that would be fashioned by the incoming administration.
On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters he's talking to administration officials and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy about a targeted coronavirus bill that Trump will sign.