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Draft Trump executive order called for armed private contractors to "seize" voting machines

Salon logo Salon 6/6/2022 Julia Conley

Donald Trump, Michael T. Flynn are posing for a picture: Sidney Powell; Donald Trump; Mike Flynn © Provided by Salon Sidney Powell; Donald Trump; Mike Flynn

Sidney Powell, Donald Trump and Mike Flynn Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images

Allies of former President Donald Trump sought to have voting machines seized by armed private contractors in the weeks after the 2020 election, according to new reporting.

As the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday, draft executive orders dated December 16 and 17, 2020 regarding the seizure of voting machines appear to have started as an "authorizing letter" written on November 21.

The letter was written by "supporters on the fringes" of Trump's circle to three people who were involved in the former president's numerous failed attempts to find evidence that President Joe Biden's victory in the election was fraudulent.

The document sought to grant authority to three companies—including two which were also involved in auditing the election results—to send armed workers to seize all voting machines and election data at will.

The letter called for the U.S. Marshals to be involved in the effort and for people involved to be armed "since most of the operations would be conducted under hostile conditions."

The request "implies that whoever drafted this... views this as some sort of warlike event," Christopher Krebs, the former U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director who Trump fired for affirming that the election had been secure, told the Times.

The Times reported on the previously undisclosed letter less than a week before the congressional committee investigating the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol is scheduled to begin public hearings.

The document is likely to be among the previously unseen material that will be revealed in the primetime hearings, according to the Times.

The draft executive order which was ultimately presented to Trump on December 18, 2020 by attorney Sidney Powell, former national security advisor Michael Flynn, and former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne shocked government watchdogs when it was reported earlier this year.

That draft did not include language regarding armed workers from private companies seizing the machines and election data, but did call for assistance from the military.

Trump ultimately did not sign the executive order.

Still, the existence of the letter showing how the former president's allies approached their efforts to circumvent the democratic process was called "chilling" by Krebs.

"You're talking about issuing letters of marque effectively to a private sector organization to go do some sort of activity on behalf of that executive office of the president," Krebs told the Times. "A private sector organization has no authority to go and seize state government equipment. The federal government doesn't even have that authority, particularly in the context of administering elections. And we are looking at a document that says that's okay."

Aimee Allison, founder of pro-democracy group She the People, said the letter is new evidence that the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol when lawmakers were certifying the 2020 election results, was "a failed coup."

 

"And these people are still plotting," she said.

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