The Justice Department is staffing up and will utilize new "scrutiny" to contentious inspections looking for evidence of fraud in the 2020 election, Attorney General Merrick Garland declared on Friday. The news was the clearest signal yet that the Biden administration is preparing to crack down on the Republican-led Arizona Senate's review in Maricopa County, which has drawn GOP officials from other states to review their own audits and praise from former President Donald Trump, who maintains the November contest was a fraud despite assurances by elections officials it was secure. A conflict could very well happen before the audit is complete and its findings are released in a report expected to be released this summer. [tweet_embed] June 11, 2021[/tweet_embed] Garland didn't name Maricopa County by name, but he nonetheless charted a collision course echoing a call to action made by Eric Holder, an attorney general during the Obama administration, for the Justice Department to become “aggressively involved” in pursuing possible breaches of federal law in the case of the audit and to prosecute violators of these laws when needed. "As part of its mission to protect the right to vote, the Justice Department will, of course, do everything in its power to prevent election fraud, and if found, to vigorously prosecute it," Garland said. [tweet_embed] June 11, 2021[/tweet_embed] "But many of the justifications proffered in support of these post-election audits and restrictions on voting have relied on assertions of material vote fraud in the 2020 election that have been refuted by law enforcement and intelligence agencies of both this administration and the previous one, as well as by every court, federal and state, that has considered them," he added. "Moreover, many of the changes are not even calibrated to address the kinds of voter fraud that are alleged as our justification." Garland made the comments during a policy speech on voting rights in Washington, D.C. He said the Civil Rights Division is going to need more lawyers and announced that within 30 days the Justice Department will double its "enforcement staff for protecting the right to vote." [tweet_embed] June 11, 2021[/tweet_embed] He said their focus will be a boatload of new voting laws passed by Republican-controlled states in the wake of the 2020 presidential election and noted the Justice Department "will apply the same scrutiny to post-election audits to ensure they abide by federal statutory requirements to protect election records and avoid the intimidation of voters. In that regard, we will publish guidance explaining the civil and criminal statutes that apply to post-election audits." The Justice Department originally indicated an interest in the Maricopa County review in May, sending a letter to the Arizona Senate warning that the audit and recount, led by contractors appointed by the Arizona Senate, might run afoul of federal law, particularly in terms of canvassing.