President Donald Trump pressed his allies to investigate how to use government orders to seize voting machines in several key swing states in the final days of his term, according to reports by The New York Times and CNN.
According to the reports, White House officials and Trump allies floated several ways to legally take possession of voting machines from states as he continued to push unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. CNN reports that officials even wrote drafts of executive orders he could sign in the hopes of seizing the machines, though the orders were never published.
According to The New York Times, Trump directed his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to contact the Department of Homeland Security to find ways to take possession of the machines. The Times reports that Giuliani did so, leading department officials to draft a proposed executive order.
The Times reports that Giuliani's request came after officials proposed that a similar maneuver could be made via orders from the Pentagon. CNN reports that that plan, hatched by retired Col. Phil Waldron and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, also resulted in the drafting of an executive order.
The two orders were drafted after Trump also raised the possibility of seizing voting machines through the use of the Justice Department, a suggestion that was immediately shot down by then-Attorney General Wiliam Barr, according to The Times.
While the existence of such executive orders has already been the subject of news reports, Monday evening's developments suggest Trump had a more prominent role in such plans than previously known.
Despite Trump's continued insistence, there has been no evidence produced to suggest that widespread voter fraud took place in the 2020 election. In the weeks after the election, Barr said publicly that he had seen no evidence to indicate widespread fraud during the election, and top election security officials made similar statements.
Even a partisan Republican-backed audit of the 2020 election in Arizona found that Biden still won the swing state — though the report offered suggestions to better secure elections in the future.
The Democrat-led House committee that was established to investigate the cause of the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol has already said they are looking into the Trump administration's reported plans to seize voting machines.
"If you are using the military to potentially seize voting machines ... the public needs to know," committee chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi, said last month.