Draft order would have given armed Trump supporters power to seize voting data – Mother Jones

Donald Trump arrives at a rally on January 06, 2021.Tasos Katopodis/Getty

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As MAGA-world rushed in November 2020 to concoct claims that the presidential election had been stolen, a business associate of Mike Lindell – the exec of My Pillow promoting outlandish conspiracy theories – circulated a particularly extreme proposition : a draft executive order it would have allowed armed Trump supporters to seize voting data and investigate alleged “voter tampering.”

The proposal identified three people who would be granted this power. Two were associates of former national security adviser Michael Flynn: retired Colonel Philip Waldron and Texas businessman Russell Ramsland. Waldron and Ramsland at the time worked closely with Flynn and attorney Sidney Powell to promote the unsubstantiated and zany claim that the Chinese Communist Party, in cahoots with billionaire George Soros and an array of others actors around the world, had rigged the American vote. machines to throw the presidency to Joe Biden.

It is unclear how far this proposal went; Trump never implemented it. But it’s an indicator of just how bizarre the effort to overturn the election was. The draft executive order was shared among a group of Trump supporters organized by Powell, who were concocting conspiracy theories and developing implausible legal strategies to keep Trump in power. In a now infamous December 16, 2020 meeting in the Oval Office, Powell and Flynn allegedly press Trump to issue an executive order authorizing the military or a civilian agency to seize voting machines. Public reports noted this Ramsland and Waldron helped formulate this proposal. But the idea may have drawn at least from the separate draft executive order circulated by Andrew Whitney, Lindell’s partner.

Whitney, a British pharmaceutical entrepreneur, had recently won a few notoriety by encouraging Trump to adopt an oleander treatment that Whitney says could “cure” Covid in two days.

The draft executive order includes space in square brackets for “language to convey the authority of the office of the President of the United States of America.” Then it says, “Due to compelling evidence of election tampering,” three individuals and their companies allegedly have the power to “actively seek, physically obtain and/or remotely retrieve, and maintain in a storage site data protected by a third party all data and/or or code relating to U.S. voter fraud, voter manipulation, voter fraud, voter interference, voter eligibility, and election systems wherever they reside.

“These individuals,” the order adds, “will be permitted to be armed while conducting these investigations, as most operations would be conducted under hostile conditions.” It also says that US Marshals or other law enforcement “will be seconded to teams sent into the field” to enter data.

Two of the three figures the order is said to have tasked with carrying out this plan have since become well known for their post-election machinations. Waldron, who runs Rising Tide Services LLC, created an infamous PowerPoint presentation that urged Trump to declare a national emergency in order to stay in office. Waldron has said he spoke to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows “eight to 10 times.” Ramsland ran a company called Allied Security Operations, which claims to offer customers a combination of cybersecurity and physical security services and which, according to Ramsland, search provided to Powell and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani. Neither Waldron nor Ramsland responded to requests for comment.

The third person named in the draft order said Mother Jones that he had nothing to do with this proposal and that he was unaware of its existence and that he was not involved in the efforts to annul the election.

The draft was sent from a ProtonMail address that belongs to Whitney, according to people who corresponded with him. It is unknown if Whitney actually wrote it. He did not respond to inquiries. The document was sent to Jim Penrose, whose online biography says he worked for the National Security Agency and worked closely with Flynn at the time. It was also sent to Doug Logan, the head of a cybersecurity firm, Cyber ​​Ninjas, who was later implicated in a so-called audit of election results in Arizona.

Whitney, Penrose and Logan were among a group of Trump supporters who met in mid-November 2020 at a property bought earlier that year by Lin Wood, a prominent trial attorney who has embraced pro-Trump conspiracy theories, including QAnon. Led by Powell, the group, which also included Flynn and Overstock founder Patrick Byrne, used the estate – called Tomotley Plantation – to organize legal efforts to keep Trump in power.

It’s unclear who else, if anyone, ultimately saw the commissioned draft that Whitney sent to Penrose and Logan. But the email, according to the sources involved, was the first part of a process in which many people working with Powell, including Wood’s property group, in workshop sweeping proposals that eventually reached Trump, in modified form. “Almost everyone in Sidney’s orbit was involved in writing some of this stuff,” said a person involved in the effort.

Various media have reported Disorganized Executive orders linked to efforts to encourage Trump to attempt to seize voting machines. A proposal would have would have used the Department of Homeland Security, not the Pentagon; Asset, according the New York Times, was open to the idea. But other Trump advisers, including White House attorney Pat Cippolone and even Giuliani, would have blocked him. The former mayor of New York famous said “we would all end up in jail” if Trump signed an order authorizing the military to confiscate the machines.

Wood, who has since turned against most of his former guests, claimed in an interview that Whitney came to his property the second week of November 2020 not to participate in the crusade against voter fraud, but to promote oleandrin , his supposed Covid remedy. The Washington Post reported last year, Whitney secured support for this product from HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Lindell and was able to secure a White House meeting about it with Trump in July 2020. Lindell, who, according Axios, invested in a company developing the drug, later claimed that Trump said at the meeting that “the FDA should approve” the product. (This doesn’t.)

Whitney had previously introduced oleandrin to a series of conservative pundits. John Solomon, the former right-winger Hill columnist who helped Giuliani pushing false allegations about Joe Biden and Ukraine in 2019, gave the product a swollen handwriting. Whitney too peddled on the pro-Trump live streamer show Diamond and Silk.

But in November 2020, Whitney found a new purpose. In a four page note which he sent to Wood on November 18, titled “Their Plan Revealed”, Whitney speculated that the left, which he called “the Communists”, would use violence and possible collaboration with “armed foreign elements of “China, Venezuela and Cuba”. to retain power in the United States. He also predicted they would stage a stock market crash, “a second pandemic” or a power grid outage to distract from Trump’s efforts to expose voter fraud. To stop this, Whitney urged Trump to take a series of executive actions, including pardoning WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, declassifying “all Russiagate documents,” and ordering “immediate arrests of violent activists, facilitators (BLM, ANTIFA, others)”.

“Can we pass this on to Sidney, and to General Flynn, or to POTUS directly?” Whitney asked Wood in an email.

Wood told me he didn’t think he complied. “I doubt I did anything with it, including bother to read it,” Wood said.

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