President Donald Trump told advisors he was considering appointing far-right lawyer and conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell as special adviser to investigate allegations of fraud in the 2020 election.
The president launched the idea at a controversial White House meeting Friday. according to the New York Timeswho first reported the news. Several advisors, including some who agreed with the president’s unsubstantiated claims about the election, vehemently opposed the idea, according to the paper.
Trump also reportedly asked about the idea of enforcing martial law at the meeting. He later denied this in a post on Twitter.
Powell, who was reported to be present at the meeting, is the attorney for former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn, who was charged with lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation until the President pardoned him last month.
Powell, a Conservative legal personality, has come up with elaborate and false theories about how Trump lost to President-elect Joe Biden, including a proposal that voting software be developed on the orders of Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan leader who died in 2013.
Flynn was also reported to be attending the meeting. The retired army lieutenant general has reached out to conservative media in recent days to urge Trump to impose martial law in order to discard the results of the November competition.
On Thursday, Flynn appeared on right-wing news broadcaster Newsmax and said Trump could “seize” voting machines and use the military to “basically redo an election in any of these states.”
“These people out there are talking about martial law like we’ve never done it,” Flynn said. “Martial law was introduced 64 times.” Flynn added that he “doesn’t call for it”.
In a post on Twitter later on Sunday, Trump wrote: “Martial law = fake news. Only knowingly worse reporting!”
Senior military leaders rejected Flynn’s calls in a statement Friday.
“The US military has no role in determining the outcome of an American election,” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and Chief of Staff James McConville said in a statement.
In the Oval Office, Powell and Flynn urged Trump to do more to support their efforts to reverse the election results, Politico reportedciting a person familiar with the meeting.
The New York Times reported that Trump advisers had pushed back the idea of naming Powell as a special adviser, as well as other ideas raised at the meeting.
Those who opposed the ideas included Trump attorney and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, White House attorney Pat Cipollone, and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
Cipollone told Trump that there was no constitutional authority over the ideas discussed, according to the New York Times. According to Politico, the meeting became tense and included shouting.
The White House and Powell have not returned requests for comment on the meeting.
Trump has not yet conceded the election on November 3, although Biden has clearly won both the referendum and the legally significant electoral college.
The electoral college officially voted for Biden on Monday by a margin of 306-232. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who was late in publicly congratulating Biden on his victory for weeks, did so on Tuesday.
While Trump continued to deny the election results, last month his campaign distanced itself from the claims Powell made. In a statement, Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, another Trump attorney, said Powell “is a lawyer himself.”
However, according to the New York Times, Trump has stayed in touch with Powell. The newspaper said Trump asked about the attorney who received security clearances to continue their potential investigation.
Earlier, Trump had unsuccessfully urged Attorney General William Barr to appoint a special adviser to investigate the elections. Barr refused, saying the government had found no evidence of widespread fraud. On Monday, Trump announced that Barr was stepping down effective December 23.
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