Trump Wanted to Seize Voting Machines
Drip. Drip. Drip.
A report in the New York Times by Alan Feuer, Maggie Haberman, Michael S. Schmidt and Luke Broadwater contends former President “Trump Had Role in Weighing Proposals to Seize Voting Machines.”
Six weeks after Election Day, with his hold on power slipping, President Donald J. Trump directed his lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, to make a remarkable call. Mr. Trump wanted him to ask the Department of Homeland Security if it could legally take control of voting machines in key swing states, three people familiar with the matter said.
Mr. Giuliani did so, calling the department’s acting deputy secretary, who said he lacked the authority to audit or impound the machines.
Mr. Trump pressed Mr. Giuliani to make that inquiry after rejecting a separate effort by his outside advisers to have the Pentagon take control of the machines. And the outreach to the Department of Homeland Security came not long after Mr. Trump, in an Oval Office meeting with Attorney General William P. Barr, raised the possibility of whether the Justice Department could seize the machines, a previously undisclosed suggestion that Mr. Barr immediately shot down.
The new accounts show that Mr. Trump was more directly involved than previously known in exploring proposals to use his national security agencies to seize voting machines as he grasped unsuccessfully for evidence of fraud that would help him reverse his defeat in the 2020 election, according to people familiar with the episodes.
The existence of proposals to use at least three federal departments to assist Mr. Trump’s attempt to stay in power has been publicly known. The proposals involving the Defense Department and the Department of Homeland Security were codified by advisers in the form of draft executive orders.
But the new accounts provide fresh insight into how the former president considered and to some degree pushed the plans, which would have taken the United States into uncharted territory by using federal authority to seize control of the voting systems run by states on baseless grounds of widespread voting fraud.
The people familiar with the matter were briefed on the events by participants or had firsthand knowledge of them.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake declares “Trump makes the coup-deniers look silly again.”
Key members of the Republican Party have spent the better part of six years pretending Donald Trump wasn’t really doing that. This is often followed by Trump himself confirming that’s precisely what he was doing.
Such is now the case with the plot to get Vice President Mike Pence to unilaterally overturn the 2020 election.
Trump released a statement Sunday night asserting not only that Pence could have overturned the election himself but that he should have. The former president did so in the context of some Republicans pushing for a law that would clarify that the vice president doesn’t, in fact, have this power.
Citing Sen. Susan Collins’s (R-Maine) support for the push to overhaul the Electoral Count Act, Trump maintained the effort itself betrayed Pence’s actual authority.
“Actually, what they are saying is that Mike Pence did have the right to change the outcome, and they now want to take that right away,” Trump said. “Unfortunately, he didn’t exercise that power, he could have overturned the Election!”
Let’s set aside the dodgy logic here; Congress often passes bills to clarify the law, and this one would seem a good target for some clarity, given the stakes and what happened in 2020. The idea was the Electoral Count Act did indeed prevent Pence from doing this, but that the act would somehow simply be declared unconstitutional.
This is precisely the thing Republicans and even Trump’s own lawyers have assured us wasn’t the real goal on Jan. 6 last year — or was even “crazy” or, in Pence’s own words, “un-American.” That’s despite plenty of evidence that it was indeed an option Trump pushed for, and now we have this confirmation.
I continue to believe it incredibly likely Trump will ever face criminal charges for his role in this. Not being a legal expert, I’m not even quite sure any of this is even technically a crime, much less enough that the Justice Department would take the extraordinary and explosive step of indicting a former President of the United States.
Still, week by week, more evidence emerges of just how far Trump went in trying to steal the election.