Former President Donald Trump was more directly involved with plans to use branches of the federal government to seize voting machines after his loss in the 2020 election, personally asking his Cabinet members and his lawyer if they could help him as his tenure in the White House was running out, The New York Times reported Monday.
In one instance, Trump asked his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani if he could call the Department of Homeland Security to ask if it could take control of voting machines in several swing states, reported the newspaper, citing people familiar with Trump’s discussions. In another meeting in the Oval Office, Trump asked then-Attorney General William Barr whether the Justice Department could take control of the machines.
Homeland Security’s acting deputy secretary, Ken Cuccinelli, said he didn’t have the authority to do so, and Barr, the Times reported, immediately shot down the idea.
The report adds new detail to the already shocking final weeks of the Trump administration and show how far Trump was willing to go to try and remain in office. In January, Politico published a draft executive order that would have ordered the Pentagon to seize voting machines using debunked conspiracy theories as a pretext to do so. The order was never issued, and it’s unclear who wrote it.
The full effort by Trump and his allies is currently being investigated by a House select committee looking into the Jan. 6 , 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol as Congress gathered to certify the Electoral College vote count.
Trump has maintained his claim that the election was stolen from him, pointing to false allegations of voter fraud. Last weekend, he called for massive protests if prosecutors act against him and said he would offer pardons to those charged in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot if he is elected to the White House in 2024.
“If these radical, vicious, racist prosecutors do anything wrong or illegal, I hope we are going to have in this country the biggest protests we have ever had in Washington, D.C., in New York, in Atlanta and elsewhere, because our country and our elections are corrupt,” he said in Conroe, Texas.
The Times reported Monday night that Trump often butted heads with his closest allies in his final weeks in office. At one point, a retired Army colonel, Phil Waldron, sent a 38-page PowerPoint presentation to Mark Meadows, then Trump’s chief of staff, and other aides that included plans to overturn the election, including the use of the military to seize the voting machines.
Aspects of that proposal made it into the draft executive order to use the Pentagon to seize the machines, but it prompted strong opposition from Giuliani. The attorney, one of Trump’s fiercest defenders who spread lies about the election on his behalf at a rapid clip, said the military should not be involved.
Trump, the Times added, listened to that advice.