Donald Trump and his allies devised several harebrained schemes to enable the former president to stay in power after the 2020 election. The Washington Post on Thursday reported on a memo detailing yet another such scheme: sifting through National Security Agency data to try to prove foreign election interference.
The Dec. 18 memo, which circulated among Trump’s allies, laid out a plan for Trump to appoint a three-man team to carry out the scheme to use NSA data to overturn the election results: Army lawyer Frank Colon; former National Security Council employee Richard Higgins, who was fired for claiming Deep State actors were out to get Trump; and Michael Del Rosso, a one-time GOP congressional candidate in Virginia and, according to his resume, a Trump campaign surrogate.
The team was to seize and analyze “NSA unprocessed raw signals data,” and to do so “confidentially” and over the course of “several days,” according to the memo. Once the alleged evidence was declassified to Trump, “next steps to defend the Constitution in a manner superior to current civilian-only judicial remedies” would be taken. The memo also included a line about shredding the data to avoid it getting into the wrong hands, a notable detail considering Trump reportedly tore up some of the documents requested by the Jan. 6 committee.
At the time of the memo, the exact origins of which are unclear, bogus Trump-backed election lawsuits were being dismissed all over the country, and other memos outlining how to reject Biden’s win during the certification of electors in Congress were being written.
“That period in time was amateur hour with people who did not know Trump or had never met with Trump before in their lives attempting to get into the Oval Office to get authorized to do investigations that the rest of the government had examined and had said there was no evidence for,” Michael Pillsbury, then an informal Trump adviser, told the Post.
On Jan. 4, election conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell hosted a meeting about election fraud at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., which Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) attended, according to Cramer and an aide to Lummis. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) attended remotely by videoconference. During the meeting, Cramer told the Post, it became clear those alleging a stolen election “wanted to get the [voting] machines.” But their evidence was weak, he noted, adding: “Honestly, I was not impressed by these people.”
After the meeting, Cramer confirmed to the Post, his office received the memo about collecting NSA data from Del Rosso, who was also present at the hotel. Sen. Johnson also received the memo, an aide said.
Similar to all of the Trumpworld schemes to overturn the election results, the memo’s strategy rested on murky legal grounds. Michael Daniel, cybersecurity coordinate under President Obama, told the Post that it was “a crazy tangle of things” that, if acted upon, “would have been a radical departure from normal procedure.”