Jan. 6 Committee Obtains Draft Trump-Era Order Laying Out Plan To Seize Voting Machines

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: President Donald J. Trump returns home after disembarking Marine One on the South Lawn at the White House on Tuesday, Jan 12, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washingt... WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: President Donald J. Trump returns home after disembarking Marine One on the South Lawn at the White House on Tuesday, Jan 12, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images) MORE LESS

A draft Trump-era executive order directed the Defense Secretary to seize voting machines and authorized the appointment of a special counsel to investigate them weeks after the 2020 elections, Politico reported Friday. 

The order was never issued, and Politico reported that it was not clear who authored the draft. It was dated Dec. 16, 2020 and among the documents that Donald Trump’s lawyers attempted, unsuccessfully, to shield from the congressional Jan. 6 Committee.

It’s unclear the extent to which then-President Trump considered the draft order.

But the timing is significant: On Dec. 18, in a now-infamous White House meeting reported by Axios last year, one-time Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell proposed seizing voting machines. 

According to the Axios report, Powell and others in her group cited a 2018 executive order concerning foreign election interference as potential legal grounds for seizing voting machines. 

The draft executive order published by Politico Friday cites the same document among several other purported legal authorities. 

The order states that “Effective immediately, the Secretary of Defense shall seize, collect, retain and analyze” all machines and records required by the federal law governing election records preservation. 

“The Secretary of Defense has discretion to determine the interdiction of national critical infrastructure supporting federal elections,” the draft order states. “Designated locations will be identified in the operation order.” 

The draft order directs the defense secretary to provide an initial assessment to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence within a week, and a final assessment no later than 60 days from the commencement of operations — well after Joe Biden’s inauguration. 

The draft order further authorizes the defense secretary to federalize National Guard forces, as well as 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 law and the Constitution.” 

Though the special counsel proposed by the draft is not specified, the document uses the pronoun “her” to refer to the individual.

As “probable cause,” the order cites a melange of false and misleading fodder from the Trumpian election fraud movement, such as a debunked report out of Antrim County, Michigan alleging that Dominion voting machines were “intentionally and purposefully designed with inherent errors to create systemic fraud and influence election results.” 

The draft order went on to say that a list of several major voting machine manufacturers “have the same flaws and were subject to foreign interference in the 2020 election in the United States.”

“There is probable cause to find these systems bear the same crucial code ‘features’ and defects that allowed the same outside and foreign interference in our election, in which there is probable cause to find votes were in fact altered and manipulated contrary to the will of the voters,” the draft order stated, regurgitating the same falsehoods that Trump and attorneys supporting his campaign used in their efforts to overturn the results of the election. 

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