ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl’s upcoming book, “Betrayal,” reveals more eye-popping details on ex-Trump adviser Michael Flynn and his lawyer, Sidney Powell, urging the use of the U.S. military to steal the election for then-President Donald Trump–by going directly to the Defense Department and peddling wacky conspiracy theories about voter fraud.
We already knew some of the bare bones of the Flynn gambit to use the military. Flynn and pro-Trump attorney Lin Wood called on Trump to declare martial law in December for “the sole purpose of having the military oversee a national re-vote,” and Flynn suggested the idea again during an explosive Oval Office meeting with Trump, according to CNN and the New York Times.
According to Karl’s book, Flynn (fresh after receiving a pardon from Trump) reportedly called Ezra Cohen-Watnick, by then a senior intelligence official, who was traveling in the Middle East at the time, and demanded that he cut his trip short, telling Cohen that “we need you” in the U.S. and that “there was going to be an epic showdown over the election results.”
Flynn told Cohen-Watnick that he needed to sign orders to seize election ballots, according to Karl.
When Cohen-Watnick reportedly told Flynn it was “time to move on” from the election, the former Trump adviser accused him of being a “quitter” and insisted that “This is not over!”
Cohen-Watnick was Flynn’s former protégé at the National Security Council, and at one point he was at the center of the scandal in 2017 over whether he had given then-House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) classified information to help substantiate Trump’s accusations that the Obama administration had been spying on him. He was ousted by then-National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster in McMaster’s purge of Trump loyalists at the NSC before being reinstated at the Justice Department.
But during his call with Flynn, even Cohen-Watnick felt that his mentor sounded “manic,” in Karl’s words.
Months after Trump left office, Flynn fully endorsed a coup in the U.S. akin to the one in Myanmar in February, arguing during a pro-QAnon MAGA event that it “should happen here.”
Like Flynn, Powell repeatedly pushed for a war on the election results: In addition to attending that same infamous Oval Office meeting with her client in December, the lawyer amplified calls online for the then-president to invoke the Insurrection Act and hijack the Electoral College certification vote so military tribunals could investigate non-existent voter fraud.
And new revelations in Karl’s book lay out how Powell took her demand for military intervention to a another extreme on the basis of one of the many mind-boggling conspiracy theories she regurgitated regarding voter fraud.
Cohen got a wild call from Powell featuring yet another truly bonkers conspiracy theory about the “deep state” and foreign election meddling after his heated call with Flynn, according to Karl.
Powell reportedly urged the official to launch a “special operations mission” to retrieve then-CIA director Gina Haspel from Germany, where Powell claimed Haspel had been taken into custody after being injured during a secret mission to destroy a server containing evidence of voting machines rigging the election against Trump.
It was a blatantly false conspiracy theory that emerged from QAnon circles, and Powell was invoking it to push the Defense Department to send special forces to Germany immediately and force Haspel to “confess,” according to Karl.
Cohen reportedly thought Powell sounded unhinged, and he informed the then-acting Defense secretary of the call.