State Rep. Craig Williams, a Republican running for attorney general, attacked one of his primary opponents, former Delaware County District Attorney Kat Copeland, on Saturday.
Williams, who represents parts of Delaware and Chester Counties, is a former Marine who served as a federal prosecutor in Denver and Philadelphia. He was also the chief prosecutor for the U. S. Marine Corps, as well as a Joint Terrorism Task Force member and deputy counsel to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Copeland, who lost to Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer in 2019, was also a federal prosecutor.
Willaims tweeted Saturday morning: “U.S. Attorney @McSwainPA said he had evidence of election fraud that DOJ shut down. AG Bill Barr said that was not true. The President called McSwain a coward. Kat Copeland was Criminal Chief under McSwain and was responsible for prosecuting election fraud. She owes us the truth.”
After losing the 2020 presidential election, former President Donald Trump blamed McSwain for not investigating allegations of election fraud in Pennsylvania. Later, when McSwain campaigned for governor in 2022, Trump told people not to vote for him in the primary.
“One person who I will not be endorsing is Bill McSwain for governor,” Trump said at the time. “He was the U.S. Attorney who did absolutely nothing on the massive election fraud that took place in Philadelphia and throughout the Commonwealth. Do not vote for Bill McSwain, a coward, who let our country down. He knew what was happening and let it go.”
In that primary, Trump endorsed eventual nominee state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin), who lost the general election to then-Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D).
During the 2022 campaign, McSwain wrote a letter to Trump saying then-U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr had told him not to investigate or prosecute claims of election fraud but to turn over any cases to Shapiro.
“As part of my responsibilities as U.S. Attorney, I wanted to be transparent with the public and, of course, investigate fully any allegations,” McSwain wrote to Trump. “Attorney General Barr, however, instructed me not to make any public statements or put out any press releases regarding possible election irregularities. I was also given a directive to pass along serious allegations to the state attorney general (Shapiro) for investigation — the same state attorney general who had already declared that you could not win.”
However, Barr said that was not true. He told The Washington Post: “Any suggestion that McSwain was told to stand down from investigating allegations of election fraud is false. It’s just false.” Barr added that the assertions “appeared to have been made to mollify President Trump to gain his support for McSwain’s planned run for governor.”
Copeland could not immediately be reached for comment.
“For the other two campaigns, this party endorsement process has been about hiding their candidates from public debate and hard questions,” said Williams. “This is but one of the many hard questions Kat Copeland needs to answer. She was at the heart of this controversy, and she should tell us the truth.”
Republicans statewide are holding straw polls this weekend to indicate their pick in the attorney general’s race ahead of the party’s endorsement vote on Monday.
In addition to Williams and Copeland, York County DA David Sunday Jr. is also seeking the nomination. Sunday, who was the first to declare his candidacy last June, is believed to be the frontrunner.
On the Democratic side, candidates include Stollsteimer, state Rep. Jared Solomon (D-Philadelphia), former auditor general Eugene DePasquale, former Philadelphia Chief Public Defender Keir Bradford-Grey, and former Bucks County Solicitor Joe Khan. The state Democratic Party did not endorse any attorney general candidates at its December meeting.
The primary is on April 23.