Bill McSwain has a serious problem. And it’s all about Donald Trump.
The former president, speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas on Sunday, claimed then-Attorney General Bill Barr prevented McSwain from investigating voter fraud in Philadelphia last year when McSwain was the local U.S. Attorney.
And then Trump, who has repeatedly lied about a stolen election since losing to President Joe Biden, turned up the heat on McSwain even higher Monday by releasing a two-page letter he said McSwain sent him.
In the June letter, McSwain echoes complaints from Trump and his allies about how the 2020 election was conducted in Pennsylvania. He writes that Barr “instructed me to not make any public statements or put out any press releases regarding possible election irregularities.”
The letter also said McSwain was instructed “to pass along serious allegations to” state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, widely seen as the early Democratic frontrunner for governor next year. That clearly appalled McSwain, a GOP gubernatorial hopeful, who wrote that he disagreed with the order but followed it.
“I will be the Republican candidate for governor with the best chance to win the general election in November 2022,” McSwain wrote. “Based on my background and experience, I am uniquely positioned to defeat Mr. Shapiro (the likely Democratic candidate) and would welcome the chance to discuss this with you in person. I would be honored to have your support.”
While McSwain is eager to talk to Trump, he has offered zero public response to the former president’s claims. He did not respond Monday to Trump’s CPAC broadside, though an aide confirmed the letter Trump released later on Monday is authentic. (Trump released it after this article was first published.)
Trump made a similar claim during a July 3 rally in Florida.
At CPAC, Trump again accused Philadelphia of running corrupt elections while offering no proof and ludicrously suggesting he didn’t want to get involved in the very claim he was making public.
“This just came out in a letter,” he told a cheering crowd. “We have a letter. You’ll have to get it from him. Because I want to stay out of it. Get if from the U.S. Attorney. I’m sure he’d be willing to provide it.”
The CPAC crowd loved it.
With McSwain staying silent, Trump released the letter.
“As US Attorney Bill McSwain prosecuted election fraud in Philadelphia in the past,” McSwain spokesperson Peter Towey said in an email after Trump released the letter. “He was prepared to investigate allegations of election fraud in 2020 but was asked by his superiors to refer cases to the state.”
And the problems keep coming for McSwain.
Business Insider reports that Michael Wolff’s book coming out Tuesday — “Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency” — reveals Trump bypassed Barr after the 2020 election, directly calling McSwain and other swing-state federal prosecutors to pressure them to open voter fraud probes.
Wolff’s book reportedly says Trump found it “inconceivable” that U.S. attorneys “didn’t see the crime here” and “wouldn’t do what he wanted.”
Trump seemed to hint at that at CPAC.
“He was not allowed to do his job,” Trump said. “And I saw that. He was all enthused and then, all of a sudden, it was like he was turned off.”
Barr, who rejected Trump’s claims about widespread voter fraud in December, more recently told The Atlantic his former boss’s allegations were “all bull—.”
McSwain, who has been making his post-Trump political career about his law-and-order record, now appears perplexed and speechless as the ex-president uses him as a cudgel to bash Barr and the Justice Department for not fighting to overturn a free and fair election.
McSwain vowed last October to keep close watch on the election and then filed no voter fraud cases. His silence now empowers Trump to continue making his claims.
While McSwain stays mum, other Republicans, including former U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta and State Sen. Doug Mastriano, are agitating for a new Arizona-style investigation of Pennsylvania’s 2020 election, as Trump has demanded. Barletta is already a candidate for governor. Mastriano is a likely contender.
Clout provides often irreverent news and analysis about people, power, and politics.