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Here's what the Jan. 6 panel's references to '2,000 Mules' is about

Former Attorney General Bill Barr is displayed on a screen during a hearing of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Former Attorney General Bill Barr is displayed on a screen during a hearing of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

Both Rep. Liz Cheney and former Attorney General Bill Barr referenced 2,000 Mules, a pro-Trump film, on Monday during the second in a series of seven expected public hearings this month.

In a video clip of Barr played by the committee, the former attorney general said that he believed the election was not stolen by fraud.

"I haven't seen anything since the election that changes my mind on that, including the 2,000 Mules movie," he said.

As NPR's Tom Dreisbach reported, 2,000 Mules is a documentary film directed by Dinesh D'Souza that alleges it has "smoking gun" evidence of massive voter fraud in the 2020 election in the form of digital device location tracking data.

For the film, D'Souza worked with True The Vote, which claimed to have purchased geolocation data from various electronic devices. The group said it used that data to track the movements of people in key swing states around the time of the 2020 election, alleging that the data shows thousands of people making stops at mail-in vote drop boxes. The "mules" in the title refers to the individuals they claim stuffed drop boxes with stacks of completed ballots.

In his testimony, Barr said he was "unimpressed" with the film and that the "photographic evidence" didn't hold up.

He added that the premise itself was flawed.

"If you take 2 million cell phones and figure out where they are physically in a big city like Atlanta or wherever, just by definition, you're going to find any hundreds of them have passed by and spend time in the vicinity of these boxes," he said.

"The premise that if you go by a box, five boxes or whatever it was, you know that that's a mule is just indefensible."

Barr said the film did not establish proof of widespread illegal ballot harvesting.

For his part, Trump embraced the film and hosted a premiere event for the film at his Mar-a-Lago resort featuring Republican politicians like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


Barbara Sprunt is a producer on NPR's Washington desk, where she reports and produces breaking news and feature political content. She formerly produced the NPR Politics Podcast and got her start in radio at as an intern on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is an alumnus of the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship at the National Press Foundation. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania native.
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