Multiple sources are claiming that former President Donald Trump’s advisers drafted two versions of an executive order to seize voting machines, one directing the Department of Defense to do so and the other directing the Department of Homeland Security to do so, as part of a larger effort to sway the 2020 election results.
According to the sources, retired Col. Phil Waldron and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security advisor, came up with the notion of leveraging the federal government to gain access to voting equipment in states where Trump lost. Both Army veterans circulated false information about Trump’s election being rigged.
While aides publicly discussed the concept at the time, the fact that two draft executive orders were actually written for various agencies to carry out the job highlights the extent to which the former President’s associates planned to use his lame-duck administration’s authority to overturn the election.
It would have been unprecedented in US history for the military or federal authorities to seize voting equipment for political purposes.
According to CNN, a draft order authorizing the Pentagon to seize voting machines has been issued. The National Archives has given over that document to a House select committee examining the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
A second version of the memo exists, according to multiple sources, and instructs DHS to carry out the same mission. The executive orders were not issued, and it is unclear who authored them.
During a now-infamous Oval Office meeting in mid-December 2020, though, Flynn and Trump’s former attorney Sidney Powell pushed for the plan. According to CNN at the time, the conference descended into shouting matches as some of the President’s advisers resisted different recommendations, including establishing martial law and appointing Powell as special counsel to examine election fraud charges.
The House select committee is now investigating the effort to draft executive order and how it got started, including the roles of Flynn, Waldron, and Powell, as well as another Trump lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and Bernie Kerik, who worked with Giuliani after the election to find any evidence of voter fraud.
According to a source familiar with the situation, Kerik recently spoke before the committee about the endeavor. A list of papers he says is protected by attorney-client privilege includes a letter concerning seizing voting equipment.
“It’s an astonishing document, and we have a lot of concerns about it,” committee member Rep. Zoe Lofgren said in an interview with CNN.
“We’ve got no evidence at this point that there were steps taken in the Department of Defense to implement that memo but … it’s a lawless document and really breathtaking in its approach,” the California Democrat added.
According to CNN, Giuliani approached Ken Cuccinelli, the department’s second-in-command at the time, about confiscating voting equipment after the election, but Cuccinelli informed him the department didn’t have the jurisdiction.
Cuccinelli claimed his conversation with Giuliani “never progressed to the point of talking about an executive order incorporating such action that I recall,” when reached earlier this month.
When asked about the military executive order, Giuliani’s lawyer, Robert Costello, said his client dismissed the proposal as soon as he learned of it.
“As soon as he heard about this idea, he was vehemently against it, as was White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and then-President Trump,” Costello said.
However, Giuliani and his staff pursued alternative ways for invalidating the election, citing the same election fraud plots outlined in the draft executive order to justify the seizure of voting machines.
Some of the key parts of those executive orders remained on Trump’s mind, including the concept of appointing a special counsel to investigate election fraud.
According to testimony provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee by former senior Justice Department officials who were present, Trump floated Cuccinelli as a possible candidate during another Oval Office meeting nearly two weeks after White House aides pushed back on the idea of naming Powell to such a role.
Meanwhile, according to a source familiar with the outreach, Flynn remained adamant that electoral equipment would be confiscated and personally reached out to at least one senior defense official in mid-December in an attempt to enlist their support with his cause.
During a December 17 interview with Newsmax, he also backed the proposal.
”He could immediately on his order seize every single one of these machines around the country on his order. He could also order, within the swing states, if he wanted to, he could take military capabilities and he could place them in those states and basically rerun an election in each of those states. It’s not unprecedented,” Flynn said at the time.