WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has intensified efforts to overturn the election, raising the idea of radical measures in recent days, including military intervention, seizing voting machines and a 13th-hour appeal to the Supreme Court.
On Sunday, Trump said in a radio interview that he had spoken with Sen.-elect Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., about challenging the electoral vote count when the House and Senate convene on Jan. 6 to formally affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
“He’s so excited,” Trump said of Tuberville. “He said, ‘You made me the most popular politician in the United States.’ He said, ‘I can’t believe it.’ He’s great. Great senator.”
Tuberville’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment on Trump’s statement, which the president made in an interview with Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer, on New York’s WABC radio station.
Trump’s conversation with Tuberville is part of a much broader effort by the defeated president to invalidate the election. He is increasingly reaching out to allies including Giuliani and White House trade adviser Peter Navarro for ideas and searching his Twitter feed for information to promote, according to Trump advisers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.
On Friday, Trump met with Giuliani and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, among others.
Flynn had suggested on Newsmax that Trump could authorize the military to rerun the election. “He could order the, within the swing states, if he wanted to, he could take military capabilities, and he could place those in states and basically rerun an election in each of those states,” Flynn said.
The next day, Flynn was in the Oval Office to discuss the idea. Flynn’s attorney, Sidney Powell, who has promoted outlandishly false claims about this year’s election, including a disproved allegation that Venezuelan communists programmed U.S. voting machines to flip votes for Biden, was also in the meeting.
Officials inside the White House said Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and White House counsel Pat Cipollone pushed back “strenuously” on the idea of martial law. Two officials, who like others for this report spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private matters and conversations, said that there have been no efforts inside the White House to actually deploy the military and that the idea was quickly dismissed at the meeting.
Experts also agree that the president does not have the authority to order such an action.
Meadows and Cipollone did not respond to requests for comment.
Trump also suggested naming Powell as special counsel on voter fraud, an appointment that appeared to be a nonstarter.
“The fact that she’s in there, it’s totally nuts,” a senior campaign official said, referring to Powell. A second official noted that Matt Morgan, a lawyer for the Trump campaign, told employees Saturday that they should preserve records related to Powell. Dominion Voting Systems has threatened to sue Powell and the Trump campaign for what it described as “wild, knowingly baseless and false accusations.”
At the meeting, Trump again suggested that Department of Homeland Security officials should seize state voting machines and investigate alleged fraud.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and other homeland security officials have previously told the White House they have no authority to do so unless states ask for inspections or investigations, and they have not.
DHS officials were not present for Friday’s meeting and have not had subsequent conversations with the White House. Ken Cuccinelli, acting deputy secretary of homeland security, also told Giuliani in a call last week that they could not take the machines, said officials.
In recent days, Trump has expressed frustration that his Cabinet is not doing more to assist. At a Cabinet meeting last week at the White House, Trump vented about the election and made unsubstantiated allegations of fraud, officials said, but he did not give Cabinet members specific orders. The president has said Wolf should have moved more quickly to fire Christopher Krebs, the former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, after Krebs countered Trump’s claims of widespread election fraud.