HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Former President Donald Trump slammed Pennsylvania GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill McSwain on Tuesday, complaining the former federal prosecutor did “absolutely nothing” to investigate Trump’s false claims of widespread election fraud after Democrat Joe Biden won the state in 2020.
McSwain, who spent nearly three years as the top federal prosecutor in Philadelphia under Trump, had been seeking Trump’s endorsement, calling the presidential election in Pennsylvania a “partisan disgrace” as he sought to curry favor with the former president. McSwain has often touted his connection to Trump as he campaigns for the GOP nod in a crowded primary field.
Instead, Trump turned on him.
“One person in Pennsylvania who I will not be endorsing is Bill McSwain for Governor. He was the U.S. Attorney who did absolutely nothing on the massive Election Fraud that took place in Philadelphia and throughout the commonwealth,” Trump said in a statement. “Do not vote for Bill McSwain, a coward, who let our Country down. He knew what was happening and let it go.”
McSwain served as Trump’s-appointed U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania from April 6, 2018, to January 22, 2021.
Trump’s false claims of a stolen election have been debunked by the courts, his own Justice Department and numerous recounts, and no prosecutor, judge or election official in Pennsylvania has raised a concern about widespread fraud.
A message was sent by the Associated Press to McSwain’s campaign spokesperson seeking comment.
When he asked for Trump’s endorsement last summer, McSwain criticized the manner in which Pennsylvania’s presidential election was run but claimed that Trump’s attorney general, Bill Barr, had blocked him from investigating. Barr told him to pass along any “serious allegations” of election fraud to the state’s attorney general’s office, McSwain said in a letter seeking Trump’s endorsement.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro is the presumptive Democratic nominee for governor.
Barr disputed McSwain’s account, saying the order came from a top deputy, not him. He told The Philadelphia Inquirer that McSwain was never told to “stand down” from investigating.
McSwain “told me that he had to do this because he was under pressure from Trump and for him to have a viable candidacy he couldn’t have Trump attacking him,” Barr told the paper last year. So McSwain “tried to thread the needle” by saying “things that were technically true” without giving “support to Trump’s stolen election narrative,” Barr said.
Trump, who has endorsed celebrity surgeon and former TV host Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania’s Republican U.S. Senate primary, has yet to make an endorsement in the crowded and competitive governor’s race. Eight Republicans are seeking the party’s nomination to face Shapiro in November’s general election.
Democrats were gleeful about Trump’s snub of McSwain. “Sorry Bill. You’re fired,” Sam Newton, spokesperson for the Democratic Governors Association, said in a statement.
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Former Senate candidate Sean Parnell and York County Republican Chairman Jeff Piccola have previously endorsed McSwain.
In a recently published WHTM/Emerson College Polling/The Hill Pennsylvania primary poll of 1,000 likely Republican Pennsylvania voters, McSwain finished fourth with 7.9%. Former congressman Lou Barletta received over double McSwain, receiving 19.8%.
The Associated Press contributed to this report