New evidence shows that among the records Donald Trump’s lawyers attempted to withhold from Jan. 6 investigators is a draft of an executive order to stage a military coup to allow him to remain in power. Under the order, the military would be under orders to immediately “seize, collect, retain and analyze” all voting machines, equipment, computers, records, etc.
Though never issued, the order along with an accompanying document titled “Remarks on National Healing” show the lengths Trump was prepared to go to steal the 2020 election (via Politico):
The executive order — which also would have appointed a special counsel to probe the 2020 election — was never issued. The remarks are a draft of a speech Trump gave the next day. Together, the two documents point to the wildly divergent perspectives of White House advisers and allies during Trump’s frenetic final weeks in office.
It’s not clear who wrote either document. But the draft executive order is dated Dec.16, 2020, and is consistent with proposals that lawyer Sidney Powell made to the then-president. On Dec. 18, 2020, Powell, former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump administration lawyer Emily Newman, and former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne met with Trump in the Oval Office.
In that meeting, Powell urged Trump to seize voting machines and to appoint her as a special counsel to investigate the election, according to Axios. (emphasis mine)
As someone who wrote about this meeting when it was held, I documented how Donald Trump might launch a military coup to remain in power, so this revelation about the never-issued executive order comes as no surprise.
A month prior to the meeting, Trump pretended to disavow Sidney Powell for spreading QAnon’s crazy claims about how the election was stolen. In a desperate attempt to get back into Trump’s good graces, Powell appeared in an interview with Trump sycophant Lou Dobbs on Fox Business and promised to turn the tide in Trump’s favor and “release the Kraken” — a reference to her alleged mountain of evidence — against Trump’s political enemies.
However, when it came time to deliver, Powell’s “Kraken” was just another failed QAnon conspiracy theory. Still, Powell and fellow QAnon nutjob Michael Flynn suggested launching a military coup a few weeks prior to the meeting, calling on Trump to “temporarily suspend the Constitution,” put the country under martial law, and “set up military tribunals” to investigate the election using the Insurrection Act.
This is also when Powell retweeted a call for Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act (a law that gives the president authority to deploy active-duty military to maintain or restore peace in times of crisis), suspend the Electoral College vote, and set up military tribunals to launch an investigation into the election.
Desperate to remain in office and running out of options, Trump latched on to the idea and welcomed Powell back into his company of crazies.
Sidney Powell and Michael Flynn were both present at the meeting when Trump suggested making Powell special counsel overseeing an investigation of voter fraud.
Trump’s suggestion of giving Powell a top position to investigate the election seemed extreme even to the most devout members of the cult, but it’s exactly what you’d expect from a man with dictatorial ambitions; especially since he and Powell had been in constant contact with each other when plans for launching a military coup was being developed.
Of course, Donald Trump denied discussing a military coup during his meeting with Sidney Powell and Michael Flynn and in a tweet, he called it . . . are you ready? . . . “Fake News.”
Martial law = Fake News. Just more knowingly bad reporting!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 20, 2020
According to Trump, this little get-together had nothing to do with martial law, a military coup, or appointing Sidney Powell as special counsel, but if his denials were true, why did he retweet people who called for martial law? Why did he hold this strategy meeting at the White House? Why were the two leading advocates of a military coup to steal the election (Powell and Flynn) invited to attend?
These unanswered questions and Trump’s desire to see Powell appointed as special counsel to investigate voter fraud had many top-level officials extremely concerned that he was considering such a power grab in his attempt to overturn the election and remain in power (via Axios):
Their fears include Trump’s interest in former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s wild talk of martial law; an idea floated of an executive order to commandeer voting machines; and the specter of Sidney Powell, the conspiracy-spewing election lawyer, obtaining governmental power and a top-level security clearance.
A senior administration official said that when Trump is “retweeting threats of putting politicians in jail, and spends his time talking to conspiracy nuts who openly say declaring martial law is no big deal, it’s impossible not to start getting anxious about how this ends.”
“People who are concerned and nervous aren’t the weak-kneed bureaucrats that we loathe,” the official added. “These are people who have endured arguably more insanity and mayhem than any administration officials in history.”
Trump embraced Powell’s conspiracy theories and her commitment to see them through. “No, it’s not over,” Trump told FOX News host Brian Kilmeade in an interview at the time. “We keep going, and we’re going to continue to go forward. We have numerous local cases. We’re, you know, in some of the states that got rigged and robbed from us. We won every one of them. We won Pennsylvania. We won Michigan. We won Georgia by a lot.”
Even after Biden’s victory, Trump, egged on by supporters like Sidney Powell, refused to concede. Instead, he holed up inside the White House as he continued to assert that he actually won the election and eventually led his army of cultists in a last-ditch effort to establish his dictatorship with the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Powell wasn’t some rogue agent working independent of Donald Trump; she was doing exactly what he wanted her to do — spreading QAnon conspiracy theories about voter fraud and helping him develop a plan to launch a military coup to steal the election and remain in office.
David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.