U.S. Attorney: 9 'discarded ballots' investigated in Pennsylvania

President Donald Trump speaks to members of the press on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington Thursday Sept. 24

The DOJ said "small number of military ballots were discarded" and investigators "recovered nine ballots at this time".

Hayes said what the Trump campaign is saying about supposedly throwing out Trump ballots "appears to be an nearly comically innocent story about a clerical error likely driven by the Trump campaign's own lawsuit".

That all changed when the office of U.S. Attorney Dave Freed issued Thursday's statement, an unusual step given U.S. Department of Justice guidance to refrain generally from commenting on any investigation - especially one involving an election in which voters already are casting ballots.

President Donald Trump and his campaign are spreading disinformation about an incident in Pennsylvania where nine ballots were improperly discarded, and are falsely claiming it proves widespread "voter fraud" and that Democrats are "trying to steal the election".

The nine ballots, from members of the military, were initially reported by the U.S. Attorney's Office to all have been cast for President Trump. "Election officials in Luzerne County have been cooperative", Freed said. The office started an investigation before handing it over to federal authorities.

The temporary employee began working at the elections bureau on September 14, Pedri said, and the mistake was discovered by Luzerne County Elections Director Shelby Watchilla two days later.

Trump spoke after affirming in a Thursday morning interview that he will voluntarily leave office if he loses to Democratic candidate Joe Biden. On right, President Donald Trump before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on June 27, 2018.

FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing

Freed's office said that they are now reviewing the statement from Luzerne County.

County election officials have been cooperating with the probe, according to Freed.

The county went for Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012 but swung to Trump in 2016.

He reviewed the issue with the ballots in question and said, "Clearly someone messed up". He described what he called a "scam" where ballots had been found in the trash. He said investigators also found four "apparently official" absentee ballot envelopes that were empty.

Trump claimed that "a lot of ballots were found in a river" and those with the Trump name "were thrown in a wastepaper basket".

"We want to make sure the election is honest and I'm not sure that it can be", Trump said at the White House on Thursday. "I don't know that it can be with this whole situation - unsolicited ballots, they are unsolicited, millions being sent to everybody". Trump has used this incident to falsely allege widespread voter fraud, despite no evidence of such, which Trump's appointed Federal Bureau of Investigation director confirmed this week. Trump has repeatedly warned this opens the election up to unprecedented fraud, while Democrats have attempted to downplay the myriad past instances of voter fraud in states like California, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and elsewhere.



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