Speed Reads

Rudy to the rescue?

Trump was reportedly personally involved in asking multiple agencies to seize voting machines after 2020 loss

President Trump rejected a proposal pushed by a motley crew of outside advisers to order the Pentagon to seize voting machines in a handful of swing states President Biden won, The New York Times and CNN report, but at the same time, in November and December 2020, he personally asked Attorney General William Barr if the Justice Department could seize the voting machines and directed his lawyer Rudy Giuliani to inquire at the Department of Homeland Security.

These new accounts by people with first- or second-hand knowledge of the events show that "Trump was more directly involved than previously known in exploring proposals to use his national security agencies to seize voting machines as he grasped unsuccessfully for evidence of fraud that would help him reverse his defeat in the 2020 election," the Times reports.

Giuliani did ask acting Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Ken Cuccinelli if the department had the authority to seize voting machines, and was told no, the Times and CNN report. Trump's advisers — notably lawyer Sidney Powell, Michael Flynn, and Phil Waldron — codified the proposals for the military and DHS to take control of voting machines into draft executive orders for Trump to sign. The idea to seize voting machines reportedly originated with Waldron, a retired Army colonel who used to work with Flynn and now owns a distillery outside Austin.

Trump asked Barr about using the Justice Department to take control of the state voting machines at a mid-November meeting, telling Barr his lawyers said the DOJ had that power to secure evidence of fraud, the Times reports. Barr said the Justice Department couldn't participate because there was no evidence a crime had been committed. 

Trump reportedly rejected the executive order for the Pentagon to seize voting machines after a dramatic Dec. 18, 2020, meeting in the Oval Office in which Powell, Flynn, and former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne made their case after being let in by a young aide to economic adviser Peter Navarro, the Times reports. Giuliani and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone joined the meeting and vehemently objected to involving the military. 

Read more about the aborted plans to seize voting machines, including Trump's unsuccessful attempts to get state lawmakers to have local law enforcement to impound them, at The New York Times and CNN.