WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump has appointed attorney Sidney Powell, who was kicked from his campaign’s legal team after pushing baseless conspiracy theories, as special counsel to investigate allegations of electoral fraud then that he seizes straws to stay in power.
In a White House meeting Friday, Trump went so far as to discuss obtaining the Powell security clearance, according to two people familiar with the meeting, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversation.
The fact that Trump is even considering installing Powell underlines the increasingly desperate measures he has weighed as he tries to reverse the results of the November 3 election, which he lost to Democrat Joe Biden. Trump has cultivated wacky conspiracy theories and ploys to try to stay in power, encouraged by allies like former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the President’s personal lawyer .
It’s unclear if Trump intends to try to move forward with the effort to install Powell. Under federal law, the United States Attorney General, not the President, is responsible for appointing special councils. And many Republicans, from outgoing Attorney General William Barr to state governors and election officials, have said time and again that there is no evidence of the type of mass election fraud Trump alleges baseless in the weeks since. his loss. Friday’s meeting was first reported by The New York Times.
In addition to losing the popular vote of over 7 million votes, Trump decisively lost the electoral college to Biden, 306 electoral votes to 232.
Trump’s campaign and his allies have now filed around 50 lawsuits for widespread electoral fraud and almost all of them have been dismissed or dropped. Trump lost in front of judges from both political parties, including some he nominated, and some of the strongest rebuke came from conservative Republicans. The Supreme Court has also declined to hear two cases – decisions Trump looked down upon.
In the absence of any other tenable legal recourse, Trump angered and peppered his allies for options as he refused to accept his loss.
This includes Giuliani, who at Friday’s meeting pressured Trump to seize voting machines in his search for evidence of fraud. The Department of Homeland Security has made it clear, however, that it does not have the authority to do so. We do not know what this would allow either.
Barr told The Associated Press in an interview earlier this month that the Justice and Homeland Security departments had looked into allegations that the voting machines “were essentially programmed to distort election results … and up to the point. at present, we have seen nothing to corroborate. this. Paper ballots are also retained under federal law and were used to verify results, including in Georgia, which performed two vote count checks using paper ballots.
Flynn, who was recently pardoned by Trump for lying to the FBI, went even further, suggesting that Trump could impose martial law and use the military to run the election again. Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows and White House attorney Pat Cipollone have voiced objections, people familiar with the meeting said.
Powell was originally part of the presidential campaign legal team, but was launched after a bizarre press conference with Giuliani in which she made a series of outlandish allegations of electoral fraud, including a claim that a Election software was created in Venezuela “under the leadership of Hugo Chavez” – the Venezuelan president who died in 2013.
In interviews and appearances, Powell continued to make misleading statements about the voting process, unfolded complicated unsupported and complex theories involving communist regimes, and vowed to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical court record.” “.
Trump’s team was quick to announce that they had severed ties with Powell. “She is not a member of Trump’s legal team. Neither is she the president’s lawyer in her personal capacity, ”Giuliani and fellow Trump attorney Jenna Ellis said in a statement.
Dominion Voting Systems, a particular target of Powell, also demanded that she withdraw the “savage” and “knowingly baseless” allegations she made about the voting machine company and threatened to sue for libel.
Since separating from the campaign, Powell has continued to press charges on Trump’s behalf, teaming up with conservative lawyer L. Lin Wood in Georgia.
Powell and the White House did not respond to requests for comment on Saturday.
Lemire reported from New York. Michael Balsamo, Associated Press editor, contributed to this report.