AP FACT CHECK: Barr raises voter fraud specter, China threat

President Donald Trump, Attorney General William Barr and acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf arrive at Andrews Air Force Base after a trip to Kenosha, Wis., Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump, Attorney General William Barr and acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf arrive at Andrews Air Force Base after a trip to Kenosha, Wis., Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

WASHINGTON – As the 2020 presidential race between President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden heats up, Attorney General William Barr warned of the potential of substantial fraud in voting by mail — but he omitted necessary context, and states that rely on the process say there is little evidence of such activity.

He also suggested that China poses more of a threat to election security than Russia, even though that was not the conclusion of an official intelligence assessment last month.

Here's a look at the claims, made in a Wednesday evening interview with CNN:

BARR on fraud in the vote-by-mail process: “Elections that have been held with mail have found substantial fraud and coercion.”

THE FACTS: Multiple studies have debunked the notion of pervasive voter fraud in general and in the vote-by-mail process.

The five states that relied on mail-in ballots even before the coronavirus pandemic — Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah — have said they have necessary safeguards in place to ensure against fraud and to prevent hostile foreign actors from co-opting the vote. More states intend to rely more heavily on mail-in voting this fall because of the pandemic.

The attorney general cited a report from more than a decade ago from a commission led by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker that said vote-by-mail was vulnerable to fraud. But the commission pointed out in a statement in May that it had found little evidence of fraud in states like Oregon that had sufficient safeguards.

Barr also said he was basing on “logic” his concern that a hostile foreign actor could produce bogus ballots for the election. But senior U.S. officials said on a conference call with reporters last week that they had no intelligence to suggest that was happening.