WASHINGTON — A draft executive order drafted by Donald Trump’s White House in the weeks following his defeat in the 2020 election ordered the nation’s top military leader to seize voting machines, according to a report Friday.
The bombshell document, released by the National Archives and obtained by Politico, highlights the extreme measures Trump might have been willing to take to cling to power against the wishes of voters who chose Joe Biden to be their next president.
Dated December 16, 2020, the order sought to appoint a special advocate to bring charges on any allegations of fraud stemming from the seizures. But it was never signed.
It is among more than 750 filings turned over to the House of Representatives select committee investigating the 2021 Capitol assault after the Supreme Court denied Trump’s appeal to block their release.
“Effective immediately, the Secretary of Defense will seize, collect, preserve and analyze all machinery, equipment, electronically stored information and physical records necessary for preservation,” the three-page draft reads.
The document picks up numerous debunked conspiracy theories about hacked voting machines that have been pushed by figures in Trump’s orbit now targeted by congressional investigators, including right-wing attorney Sidney Powell.
She falsely told reporters that the elections had been targeted by “Communist money through Venezuela, Cuba and probably China”.
Powell and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani led unsuccessful efforts to have the courts throw out election results in key swing states in the weeks following Trump’s defeat.
The ex-president and his allies have spent months pushing false claims of widespread fraud, despite his own government’s experts saying it was the safest vote in US history.
The allegations were also dismissed by Trump-appointed Attorney General Bill Barr, and Trump was eventually impeached for inciting the attack on the Capitol by a mob of his supporters.
The draft executive order bears similarities to a plot outlined in a Powerpoint presentation to keep Trump in power that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows gave to the select committee last year.
This document provided that US Marshals would seize ballots for a manual recount of 50 states.
The draft executive order that emerged on Friday focuses specifically on Dominion-made touchscreen ballot-marking devices that were used in Georgia, where a manual recount and an automatic recount confirmed Biden’s victory.
It repeats false claims that Dominion is “owned or heavily controlled and influenced by foreign agents, countries and interests” and alleging that its machines are deliberately designed to create “systemic fraud”.
Powell and Giuliani are fighting billion-dollar defamation lawsuits brought by Dominion and Smartmatic, another voting machine company.