The House committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riot obtained a draft Trump executive order directing the Pentagon to seize voting machines after the 2020 election, Politico reports.
Trump ultimately never signed the order, which would have also appointed a special counsel to investigate unfounded voter fraud allegations in the election.
It’s unclear who wrote the executive order, which is dated December 16, but it is consistent with a proposal pushed by former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell following Trump’s election loss.
Powell during an Oval Office meeting with Trump, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and others urged Trump to order the Pentagon to seize voting machines.
The order would have directed the defense secretary to “seize, collect, retain and analyze all machines, equipment, electronically stored information, and material records.”
The order cites presidential authorities for Trump to issue the order and national security documents, meaning that the author would have had to have knowledge of classified memos.
Along with seizing voting machines, the order would have directed the defense secretary to write an assessment of the 2020 election within 60 days, suggesting that it was an attempt for Trump to hold on to power until after the scheduled inauguration.
The order would have also approved “the appointment of a Special Counsel to oversee this operation and institute all criminal and civil proceedings as appropriate based on the evidence collected and provided all resources necessary to carry out her duties consistent with federal laws and the Constitution.”
“Abuse of emergency powers”:
"This draft order represents not only an abuse of emergency powers, but a total misunderstanding of them," Liza Goitein, co-director of the liberty and national security program at the nonprofit Brennan Center for Justice, told Politico. "The order doesn’t even make the basic finding of an 'unusual and extraordinary threat' that would be necessary to trigger any action under [federal emergency powers law]. It’s the legal equivalent of a kid scrawling on the wall with crayons."