Unsigned Trump order told Pentagon to seize voting machines

Document highlights extreme measures former president may have been willing to take to cling to power

A voter carries an election ballot to the voting machine at a polling station in Miami, Florida. AFP
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A draft executive order written by former US president Donald Trump's White House in the weeks after his defeat in the 2020 election directed the nation's top military leader to seize voting machines, a report said on Friday.

The document, released by the National Archives and obtained by Politico, highlights the extreme measures Mr Trump may have been willing to take to cling to power against the will of voters who picked Joe Biden to be their next president.

Dated December 16, 2020, the order sought to appoint a special counsel to bring charges on any fraud allegations that arose from the seizures — but it was never signed.

It is among 750-plus records turned over to the House of Representatives select committee investigating the 2021 Capitol assault after the Supreme Court rejected Mr Trump's appeal to block their release.

“Effective immediately, the secretary of defence shall seize, collect, retain and analyse all machines, equipment, electronically stored information and material records required for retention,” says the three-page draft.

The document reprises many of the debunked conspiracy theories about hacked voting machines that were pushed by figures in Mr Trump's orbit now being targeted by congressional investigators, including right-wing lawyer Sidney Powell.

She falsely told reporters the election had been affected by “communist money through Venezuela, Cuba and likely China".

Ms Powell and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani led unsuccessful efforts to have courts throw out election results in key swing states in the weeks after Mr Trump's defeat.

The ex-president and his allies spent months pressing false claims of widespread fraud, despite experts in his own government affirming that it was the most secure vote in US history.

Georgia election official recalls threats from Trump supporters

Georgia election official recalls threats from Trump supporters

The claims were also rejected by Trump-appointed attorney general Bill Barr, and Mr Trump was eventually impeached for inciting the attack on the Capitol by a mob of his supporters.

The draft order bears similarities to a plot outlined in a PowerPoint presentation to keep Mr Trump in office that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows turned over to the select committee last year.

That document envisaged US Marshals seizing ballots for a 50-state hand recount.

The draft executive order that surfaced on Friday focuses specifically on touchscreen ballot-marking devices made by Dominion that were used in Georgia, where a hand recount and machine recount affirmed Mr Biden's win.

It repeats false allegations about Dominion being “owned or heavily controlled and influenced by foreign agents, countries, and interests” and alleging that its machines are deliberately designed to create “systemic fraud.”

Ms Powell and Mr Giuliani are fighting billion-dollar defamation lawsuits from Dominion and Smartmatic, another voting machine company.

Updated: January 21, 2022, 10:30 PM