Trump Allies Pondered Seizing Voting Machines With Armed Contractors—Report

Figures on the fringe of former President Donald Trump's circle pushed for the use of armed contractors to seize voting machines as part of the effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election, according to a report published by the Los Angeles Times on Saturday.

The report centers around a November 21, 2020 draft letter the Times says it reviewed. In it, Andrew Whitney, a British tech entrepreneur working to find evidence of voter fraud and help overturn Trump's loss to President Joe Biden, allegedly suggested deploying armed contractors to—with assistance from the U.S. Marshals—seize and inspect voting machines.

Whitney came into Trump's orbit in 2020 while pushing Oleandrin, a toxic botanical extract, as a cure for COVID-19. He reportedly sent the letter attached to an email to Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan and cybersecurity expert Jim Penrose, two figures who worked extensively on the effort to overturn the 2020 election, alongside Sidney Powell and Michael Flynn, among other Trump allies. Whitney, Penrose, and Logan either declined or did not respond to requests for comment from the newspaper.

Having viewed the draft letter, the Times surmised that it was likely an early version of a proposed executive order presented to Trump in the Oval Office on December 18, 2020. The order, which was never enacted, called for voting machines across the country to be seized. It was presented to the former president by Powell, Flynn, and former CEO Patrick Byrne. The letter is now believed to be in the possession of the House Select Committee investigating January 6.

Trump Allies Pondered Seizing Voting Machines
A draft letter suggests some figures in President Donald Trump's circle pushed for the use of armed contractors to seize voting machines as part of the effort to overturn the 2020 election, according to a Los Angeles Times report published on Saturday. Above, Trump supporters rally and march to declare the 2020 Presidential election results a fraud and the true winner to be President Trump, on November 14, 2020 in downtown Washington, D.C. Andrew Lichtenstein/Getty

The order suggested by the draft letter would have granted authority to third-party companies to seize voting machines and research their data at will. It also gave the authority to acquire "all data and/or code regarding US election fraud, election manipulation, voter fraud, election interference, voter eligibility, and election systems wherever it resides."

Three cybersecurity companies were named in the document, two of which, Rising Tide and Allied Security Operations Group, were linked to Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The third, Axon Global Services, was not, according to the Times, and owner Israel Martinez told the paper that he had no idea why his company would have been referenced.

"I was not privy to the document you mentioned nor was my name nor my company name listed with my authorization," Martinez told the outlet in a statement. "Moreover, I would be angered by any implication that we would take a partisan view in any engagement we are asked to conduct. We would never approach any potential evaluation of a cyber incident with a partisan view."

Newsweek has been unable to independently view the letter and verify the claims in the report from the Times.

Newsweek reached out to Trump's office for comment.

Updated, 5:32 p.m. EST, 06/06/2022: This article was updated with a corrected reference to Patrick Byrne.