Former President Donald Trump’s advisers drafted two versions of a proposed executive order to seize voting machines — one directing the Department of Defense to do so and another the Department of Homeland Security — as part of an illegal effort to reverse the 2020 election results, according to documents obtained by the bipartisan Congressional committee investigating the violent January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.
The idea of using the federal government to access voting machines in states that Trump lost was the brainchild of retired Col. Phil Waldron and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser who was fired for lying about his contacts with Russia.
Both former Army officers spread lies about the election being stolen from Trump, who lost by more than eight million votes and a significant Electoral College margin.
While advisers publicly floated the idea at the time, revelations that two draft executive orders were actually drawn up for different agencies to carry out the job underscores the extent to which the former President’s allies wanted to weaponize the powers of his lame-duck administration to overturn the election after Trump lost.
Any operation for the military or federal agents to seize voting equipment for political purposes would have been unprecedented in US history and these disclosures indicate that Trump and his inner circle are criminals who wanted to destroy American democracy.
In addition to lying about the election results, which have been confirmed in more than 50 courts, by all state election officials, and from reasonable officials from all parties to have been fair and uneventful, Trump persists in efforts to set up a rigged election in 2024.
He also vowed that if reelected, he would consider pardoning January 6 rioters. “If I run and if I win, we will treat those people from January 6 fairly,” he said. “And if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons because they are being treated so unfairly.”
In a statement on Sunday Trump said, “what [members of Congress] are saying, is that Mike Pence did have the right to change the outcome, and they now want to take that right away. Unfortunately, he didn’t exercise that power, he could have overturned the Election!”
That statement was made in response to proposed reforms to the Electoral Count Act that attempt to streamline the certification process in order to prevent another insurrection.
On Jan. 6, 2021, after Pence gaveled the count into order, a violent mob of pro-Trump terrorists raided the Capitol, destroying property, injuring police officers and delaying the proceeding for hours.
Some of the marauding terrorists chanted “Hang Mike Pence” after he announced that he had no power to overturn electoral votes, defying the legal interpretation pushed by Trump and some of his close allies.
Combined with Trump’s insinuation that he’ll pardon all January 6th defendants if he’s elected again, it’s clear that the terrorist attack was a coup attempt.
Lawyer John Eastman, who had a reputation as a prominent conservative law professor, prepared a two-page memo that outlined an incendiary scenario under which Vice-President Mike Pence, presiding over the January 6 joint session of Congress, effectively overruled the votes of millions of Americans in seven states that Biden had won, by falsely declaring that Trump was re-elected.
Eastman also prepared a longer six-page memo in which he had proposed alternatives.
His favorite was that the vice-president could adjourn the joint session of Congress and send the electoral results back to states unfairly so that legislatures could falsely say Trump had lost due to fraud and use that excuse to illegally reverse the outcome set by voters on election day.
Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University and a leading authority on election issues, called Eastman’s set of alternative scenarios as nothing less than a “fairly detailed roadmap for a constitutional coup d’état. That memo was a plan for a series of tricks to steal the presidency for Trump.”