Powell reportedly pitched plan to seize voting machines, after Friday meeting at which Trump weighed special counsel role
The lawyer and conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell was back at the White House on Sunday night, reportedly to pitch Donald Trump on a plan to seize voting machines as the US president continues to dispute the result of November’s election, which he lost.
Trump refuses to concede defeat by Joe Biden and continues to advance baseless claims of electoral fraud, despite Biden’s electoral college victory and regardless of the Democrat’s lead in the popular vote by more than 7m ballots.
Over the weekend, Trump tweeted encouragement to Republicans reported to be considering challenges to the electoral college results when they come before Congress on 6 January. Such moves will in all likelihood not succeed in overturning the result, representing instead political appeals to the Republican base, many by senators who harbour White House aspirations of their own.
Nonetheless, aides to the president, speaking anonymously, have told reporters they are concerned about Trump’s behaviour as inauguration day, 20 January, draws near.
Powell was cut from Trump’s campaign team after spouting wild conspiracy theories but continues to advance the president’s cause. Spotted by CNN on Sunday night, she denied meeting the president and said it was “none of your business” why she was at the executive mansion.
But she was among attendees at a Friday meeting at the White House at which Trump reportedly proposed naming her as special counsel to investigate alleged electoral fraud, and flirted with the pardoned former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s suggestion that the army might be used to rerun votes in battleground states.
Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani was reported to have pooh-poohed the special counsel and martial law plans, but to have asked about seizing voting machines, all ideas knocked down by the chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and the White House counsel, Pat Cipollone.
Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, one White House aide said Trump’s current strategy for holding on to power amounted to: “Let’s throw a giant plate of spaghetti at the wall and hope that at least one noodle sticks.”
Maggie Haberman, one of the New York Times reporters who broke news of the Friday meeting, tweeted: “Sources who have gotten used to Trump’s eruptions over four years sound scared by what’s transpired in the past week.”
Haberman also said Powell had returned to the White House to pitch “an executive order on seizing voting machines to examine them, per a person with knowledge of the meeting”.
On Monday, outgoing attorney general William Barr told reporters that though he was “sure there was fraud in this election” it was not “systemic or broad-based” and he would not name a special counsel to investigate such claims. Barr also said he saw “no basis right now for seizing machines”.
“If I thought a special counsel at this stage was the right tool,” he said, “I would name one. But I haven’t and I’m not going to.”
News – Conspiracy-theorist lawyer Sidney Powell spotted again at White House