Protecting voting rights isn’t enough to save democracy
Election law expert Richard L. Hasen on the problem of election subversion — and what can be done to stop it.The rejection of the legitimacy of the 2020 election by many Republicans has fueled widespread, state-level voter suppression campaigns and a growing effort to subvert America’s election system.
A draft executive order that then-President Donald Trump considered signing in December 2020 would've directed the Pentagon to seize voting machines in key states and hunt for evidence of fraud, according to a draft published by Politico.
Trump never signed the executive order. But it would've directed the Secretary of Defense to "seize, collect, retain and analyze all machines, equipment, electronically stored information, and material records" related to Trump's false claims of an international vote-rigging conspiracy to deprive him of a second term in the White House, according to the draft.
As voting rights push fizzles, Biden's failure to unite his own party looms again
Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, both Democrats, said Thursday they were against filibuster changes, spoiling Biden's efforts to pass voting rights.On Thursday, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona Democrat, dealt a potentially fatal blow to Biden’s renewed push for federal voting rights legislation. In a surprise speech on the Senate floor, she flatly rejected Biden’s plea – issued less than 48 hours earlier – to change the filibuster rules so Democrats could muscle through the voting rights bill without any Republican votes.
It is unclear who wrote the draft order, which is full of legal language asserting presidential powers to seize the election equipment and conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.
The draft also said the defense secretary could identify National Guard units to be federalized to help the effort. Any operation for the military or federal agents to seize voting equipment for political purposes would've been unprecedented in US history, and tantamount to a coup.
The order would have appointed a special counsel to investigate the 2020 election and "institute all criminal and civil proceedings as appropriate based on the evidence collected."
The draft appears to be one of the documents that Trump fought to block from the January 6 select committee, which is investigating his attempts to subvert the 2020 election.
The Voting-Rights Victory Democrats Aren’t Celebrating
A progressive law in the nation’s largest city seems to be a step too far for national Democrats.The law represents one of the biggest single expansions of voting rights in recent years, as well as an enormous victory for immigrants in the nation’s largest city. But Americans didn’t hear about it in Biden’s speech in Atlanta. Nor would they know about it from listening to congressional Democratic leaders who have championed both the party’s election overhaul and liberal treatment of immigrants.
Addressing the Politico reporting, Rep. Elaine Luria, a Democrat from Virginia and a member of the House committee, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that "it's incredibly concerning if this is in fact a verifiable document."
Video: New texts reveal the extent of the Republican effort to overturn the election (CNN)
"We got 700 pages today," Luria said Friday of Trump White House documents provided to the committee by the National Archives. "I know that there's been some reporting out there from various sources, so we're still going through those documents, but, having seen the reporting myself, it's incredibly concerning if this is in fact a verifiable document that was drafted by somebody in the President's inner circle."
"We are looking at this very close, still determining if that reporting is accurate, but it is certainly very concerning."
Smartmatic Sues Mike Lindell, Accusing Him of Spreading Election Lies to Sell More Pillows
"Lindell could not change the outcome of the election," the lawsuit states. "He could, however, gain a bigger audience for his book and gain more purchasers for his MyPillow products."Lindell, a conspiracy theorist who rose to prominence as a trusted friend of former President Donald Trump, became a lead voice pushing Trump's baseless claims that an unprecedented, nationwide conspiracy of voter fraud "stole" the 2020 election from Trump.
In a court filing last year, the National Archives said that Trump had asserted executive privilege over "a draft Executive Order on the topic of election integrity" which was four pages long.
One source who was interviewed by the January 6 committee told CNN they were asked about the existence of a draft memo that outlined plans to seize voting machines. But the source couldn't confirm that that the questions were specifically about the draft published by Politico.
A spokesperson for the committee declined to comment.
CNN has not been able to independently verify the documents.
The draft executive order was dated December 16, 2020, according to the document published by Politico. That was two days after the Electoral College met in state capitals to formalize President Joe Biden's victory, dealing a huge blow to Trump's attempts to overturn the election.
The idea was originally floated at a highly controversial December 2020 White House meeting, which included talk of declaring martial law, appointing a special counsel to hunt for voter fraud and ordering federal agents to seize election equipment, according to previous CNN reporting.
Ossoff and Collins clash over her past support for voting rights legislation
Freshman Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), who has kept a low profile for much of his first year in office, spoke up Thursday evening on the Senate floor to challenge Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) over what he characterized as her evolving position on voting rights legislation. Ossoff, the youngest member of the Senate, made the bold move of tangling with Collins by suggesting she had flip-flopped on her support for the Voting Rights Act, an implication that Collins fiercely disputed as inaccurate in a tense back-and-forth between the two senators on the floor.
These extreme ideas were promoted by former Trump adviser Michael Flynn and his right-wing lawyer, Sidney Powell. CNN also reported that Trump's then-attorney Rudy Giuliani asked a senior official from the Department of Homeland Security if the department could seize voting equipment in certain states so that they could be examined for evidence of widespread fraud.
CNN previously reported that some White House lawyers and top officials, including Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows, strongly argued against the Flynn-backed idea to declare a state of emergency so that the federal government could seize voting equipment in key states.
The January 6 committee has subpoenaed Giuliani, Flynn and Powell -- three stalwart Trump allies who led a disinformation campaign about the 2020 election and accused voting machine companies of participating in a global conspiracy to switch ballots from Biden to Trump. Many of their debunked theories were mentioned in the draft executive order, according to Politico.
In subpoena letters to Giuliani and Powell, the committee cited witness testimony and news reports alleging that they "urged President Trump to direct the seizure of voting machines around the country after being told that the Department of Homeland Security had no lawful authority to do so," CNN reported. They broadly deny wrongdoing related to the 2020 election.
Trump-Backed Michael McCaul Wants Truth to 'Come Out' Over Voting Machine Seizure Proposal .
On Sunday the GOP lawmaker was asked about a proposed plan shared in the Trump White House to seize voting machines after the 2020 election.The House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack against the U.S. Capitol this week received hundreds of pages of Trump administration documents after the Supreme Court allowed for their release, despite the former president's lawyers arguing that they were protected by executive privilege. Politico on Friday published a draft of a never-issued executive order from Trump that called for the secretary of defense to seize voting machines, citing misinformation that the 2020 election results were compromised.