Trump Admin Wrote, But Never Issued, Executive Order to Justify Seizing Voting Machines

According to new reports, former President Donald Trump's administration prepared an executive order to seize voting machines in December 2020, citing discredited and debunked conspiracy theories about the companies behind the machines and the election results.

The full draft of the executive order—which was never issued—was first reported by Politico on Friday after the Supreme Court allowed for the release of hundreds of pages of documents from Trump's White House sought by the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack against the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. The former president's lawyers had unsuccessfully argued that the documents should be shielded by executive privilege.

Trump's draft executive order called for voting machines to be seized by the Secretary of Defense, claiming there was "probable cause to find evidence of fraud and numerous malicious actions." It cited an already resolved issue in Antrim County, Michigan, where incorrect results were initially reported and very quickly fixed. The mistake—which was never included in any official Michigan tally—was the result of human error.

Donald Trump
A draft executive order drawn up by the Trump administration but never issued would have called for the Secretary of Defense to seize voting machines to examine them for evidence of voter fraud. Former President Donald Trump stands in front of thousands of supporters at a "Stop the Steal" rally promoting conspiracy theories about the 2020 election on January 6, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The executive order also suggested that voting machines by Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic were compromised by foreign hackers. This allegation has been repeatedly debunked and discredited by cyber security and election experts. Some local GOP officials have publicly pushed back against the claims, noting that the voting machines are never connected to the internet. Dominion and Smartmatic are involved in separate lawsuits alleging defamation against a number of conservative figures and media organizations for their promotion of false claims.

"Effective immediately, the Secretary of Defense shall seize, collect, retain and analyze all machines, equipment, electronically stored information, and material records required for retention," said the draft order, which was dated December 16, 2020.

In addition to requiring the seizure of the machines, the executive order would have also called for setting up a special counsel to investigate the 2020 election results.

According to the draft order, the special counsel would "oversee this operation and institute all criminal and civil proceedings as appropriate based on the evidence collected and [be] provided all resources necessary to carry out her duties consistent with federal laws and the Constitution."

Attorney Sidney Powell, who advised Trump and his allies in the wake of the 2020 election, had reportedly urged the former president to seize voting machines, according to Axios. The controversial lawyer—along with a number of other right-wing personalities—continues to claim that the 2020 election was "stolen," despite no evidence corroborating the allegation.

Although Trump and his allies—such as MyPillow founder Mike Lindell and right-wing strategist Steve Bannon—still contend that the 2020 election was "rigged" in favor of Biden, they have not provided evidence substantiating the claim. On the contrary, audits and recounts across the country—including in states where the election was overseen by pro-Trump officials—have consistently reaffirmed Biden's win.

More than 60 election challenge lawsuits filed by Trump and his allies in state and federal courts failed. Even judges appointed by Trump and other Republicans consistently ruled against the legal challenges brought by the former president and his supporters. Meanwhile, many top Republicans and some former Trump administration officials have publicly acknowledged that the former president's claims are false.

Former Attorney General William Barr, who was widely viewed as one of Trump's most loyal Cabinet members, said in December 2020 that there was "no evidence" of widespread fraud that would change the election's outcome. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at the Department of Homeland Security, which was led by a Trump appointee at the time, described the last presidential election as the "most secure in American history."

Newsweek reached out to Trump's press office for comment but did not immediately receive a response.