The Jan. 6 committee recently got its hands on a draft executive order instructing the National Guard to seize voting machines following the 2020 election, but it hasn’t been clear who wrote the order or to what extent former President Trump was involved in the scheme. The New York Times reported Monday night that Trump was very much involved, and that he personally pushed to see if the voting machines in swing states could be seized on multiple occasions.
According to the Times, Trump brought up the prospect of the Justice Department seizing voting machines during a November meeting with Attorney General Bill Barr. Trump reportedly told Barr that his lawyers told him the machines could be seized, but Barr slapped down the idea as there was no proof any crime had been committed.
Trump’s lawyers reportedly got wind of the idea after it had been proposed by retired Army colonel and election conspiracy theorist Phil Waldron, who was also responsible for the now-notorious presentation laying out how Trump could declare a national security emergency in order to retain power. Waldron continued to push the plan throughout Trump’s inner circle after Trump’s meeting with Barr, suggesting that other arms of the government could carry out the plan, according to the Times.
Weeks later, during a Dec. 18 Oval Office meeting the Times describes as “dramatic,” disgraced general Michael Flynn and conspiracy-pushing lawyer Sidney Powell reportedly presented Trump with a draft of an executive order instructing the military to seize the machines. Trump summoned Rudy Giuliani, who said the military had no grounds to seize them, because, again, there was no actual proof of any significant election fraud. Trump ultimately sided with Giuliani.
It doesn’t end there, though. Waldron then reportedly amended the executive order to suggest that the Department of Homeland Security could seize them. CNN reported independently on Monday night that multiple drafts of the executive order did indeed exist, one instructing the military to seize the machines, and one instructing the DHS to seize them. It has been previously reported that the executive order the Jan. 6 committee obtained includes classified information. Waldron, who owns a distillery outside Austin, is, uhh, not a government official.
Trump was intrigued by the idea of the DHS seizing the machines — now that plots to have the Justice Department and the military seize them had been nixed — and asked Giuliani to call up the department’s acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli to see if the DHS could indeed commandeer the state-run machines. He did so, and the answer, predictably, was no.
The Times notes that all of this scheming created plenty of tension within Trump’s circle. The paper describes Giuliani as “vehemently” opposed to the idea of the military seizing machines, and that he thought the plan was “beyond the pale.” Then-Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was opposed to Flynn and Powell even getting into the Oval Office. They were reportedly let in by Garrett Ziegler, an aide to Trump adviser Peter Navarro, who recently bragged to Rolling Stone about his involvement in the administration’s effort to overturn the election. Ziegler said on a podcast that Meadows revoked his guest privileges after he learned he’d let Flynn and Powell into the Oval Office.
Waldron, Flynn, Powell, Giuliani, and Meadows have all received subpoenas from the Jan. 6 committee.