WASHINGTON D.C. (WHTM) – Claims of fraud during the 2020 Presidential Election by Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano were discussed during Monday’s January 6 committee hearing.
In a pre-taped deposition with former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr played during the hearing, Barr was asked about conversations he had regarding election fraud in Pennsylvania.
In the video, officials with the Jan. 6 committee asked Barr about conversations he’d had with now-former U.S. Attorney William McSwain about “discrepancies between the number of absentee ballots issued and the number of ballots cast” in Pennsylvania.
Barr said the claim was “one of the big ones” following the 2020 election and that it was brought up during an event in Gettysburg.
After the 2020 election, Mastriano, a state senator, spearheaded a state Senate hearing in Gettysburg in which witnesses — including Trump campaign lawyer Rudy Giuliani — aired false claims about mass voter fraud. Trump called into the hearing, as well.
“It kept on being repeated and I found it annoying because it didn’t seem like it was right,” said Barr.
Barr said he contacted McSwain, who told him Mastriano “threw out this number and what he did was mixed apples and oranges.” McSwain later ran for Governor and lost to Mastriano after Trump “unendorsed” McSwain and called him a “coward” for doing “absolutely nothing” to investigate alleged election fraud.
Trump endorsed Mastriano days before the 2022 primary election in which Mastriano won with more than 43% of the vote. McSwain finished third with more than 15%.
According to Barr in the taped deposition, Mastriano’s claims of election fraud were divulged from Mastriano taking “the number of applications for the Republican primary and he compared it to the number of absentee votes cast in the general election.”
Barr said once you looked at the numbers “apples to apples there’s no discrepancy.” Barr acknowledged he believes he discussed the theory with former President Trump.
“He was becoming detached from reality,” said Barr of Trump, and called the voting fraud claims “bull——,” “bogus” and “idiotic,” and resigned in the aftermath. “I didn’t want to be a part of it.”
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Mastriano offered to sit for an interview with the Jan. 6 congressional committee and was interviewed by FBI agents last year about it, his lawyer told the Associated Press in June. Mastriano was subpoenaed by the January 6 committee in February.
The committee released its letter to Mastriano saying they “understand that (Mastriano was) present during the attack” and that he witnessed attacks on officers.
Mastriano’s lawyer, Timothy Parlatore, said Mastriano told the FBI that he did not know about a planned insurrection or any coordination behind the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
“He previously was approached and sat for a voluntary interview with the FBI and told them the truth about everything that happened that day,” Parlatore said. ”The FBI cleared him.”
The January 6 panel also heard from noted Washington elections lawyer Benjamin Ginsberg who discussed the norms of election campaign challenges, and former Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt, the only Republican on the city’s election board, who told the panel that regardless of how “fantastical” some of the claims that Trump and his team were making, the city officials investigated. He discussed facing threats after Trump criticized him in a tweet.
The Associated Press contributed to this report