Donald Trump personally reviewed a draft executive order that would have authorized the National Guard to seize voting machines and verbally agreed to appoint campaign lawyer Sidney Powell as special counsel to investigate his baseless fraud claims, according to a new report.
The twice-impeached one-term president did not follow through on the order, but four sources with knowledge of a Dec. 18, 2020, meeting at the White House told The Guardian that he came perilously close to doing so.
"Trump was handed the document when he sat down with four informal advisers – Powell, Trump’s former national security advisor Michael Flynn, former Trump aide Emily Newman and former Overstock chief executive Patrick Byrne – who had arrived at the White House unannounced," the newspaper reported. "The group had not scheduled an audience with Trump, but after Byrne messaged an acquaintance, they were cleared to enter the White House by Garrett Ziegler, a policy aide to former Trump advisor Peter Navarro, and Patrick Weaver, an aide with the National Security Council."
The draft that Trump reviewed was one of the final versions that Powell had prepared, and was retained automatically by the White House and recently turned over to the House select committee by the National Archives.
White House attorney Patrick Cipollone and White House staff secretary Derek Lyons told Trump he lacked the constitutional authority to take those actions, but the former president said he might just make Powell special counsel anyway and unilaterally grant her security clearance.
He reportedly told Powell to coordinate with his attorney Rudy Giuliani, who had removed her from the campaign legal team a few weeks earlier and found her evidence of foreign election interference to be unpersuasive.
Powell told her associated that Trump had authorized her as some type of special counsel, and she called White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to ask for office space and security clearance, but Giuliani told him that she had been banned from the White House.
Meadows refused to grant Powell a "hard pass" to the White House, but she returned two days in a row on a temporary "appointment" pass granted by another aide to share documents accusing Iran of election threats, but she was not permitted to meet with Trump himself.
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