Trump and Powell met in the Oval Office on Friday night, ABC News confirmed, and were backed by Trump’s former National Security Advisor, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who publicly urged Trump to take unprecedented steps to take a second term – – Including the declaration of martial law and ordering the military to monitor new elections on the battlefield states that Trump lost.
“”[Trump] could take over military capabilities and he could place them in those states and basically repeat an election in each of those states, “Flynn told conservative Newsmax earlier this week.
Critics have voiced alarm at the Friday meeting, first reported in the New York Times. Noah Bookbinder, head of the Washington Citizens’ Responsibility and Ethics Monitoring Group, told ABC News that the ideas raised in the Oval Office’s discussions were an “abuse of power” and “wrong and should be condemned.”
“President Trump’s continued attempts to scrap the election results have done immeasurable damage to the stability of our democracy and the confidence of the American people in it,” said Bookbinder. “The President, who welcomed Michael Flynn to the White House after Flynn proposed to Trump to impose martial law to overthrow the elections by force, takes the threat to a new level.”
Critics claim that Powell’s return could usher in a dark final chapter in the Trump presidency, and the prospect has led to targeted objections from several of Trump’s most trusted advisors – including his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who has otherwise spoken out in favor of a scorched earth election deny.
And Powell’s reappearance in Trump’s corner comes at a precarious time in her own career as many of the goals of her quest to overthrow the elections have been pushed back. Last week, Dominion Voting Systems, the Colorado voting machine firm targeted by pro-Trump forces with dark conspiracy theories of rigged elections, threatened Powell with legal action if it did not withdraw what it called “wild, knowingly unfounded” designated. and false “allegations she has made against them.
Even so, Trump invited Powell to consider the possibility of her being appointed a special adviser and receiving high-level security clearances to investigate the 2020 election. The meeting was highly controversial, sources told ABC News, filled with shouts and demands from Powell, who referred to other Trump aides as “slackers” for giving up the fight.
The meeting ended with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, White House attorney Pat Cipollone, and other Trump attorneys preventing the President from making the offer. Giuliani, who attended the meeting by phone, was also against the idea, according to sources.
Powell did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.
Powell’s attraction to Trump seems to be her willingness to examine debunked conspiracy theories suggesting that foreign actors with a deep American state planned to rig voting machines for former Vice President Joe Biden. During the meeting on Friday, a source said the assembled group pondered an executive order to seize and investigate voting machines across the country.
This idea was originally brought up by Giuliani earlier this week, but was quickly shot down by Cipollone and Meadows. When Powell brought it up Friday night, the two dismissed it again.
“I don’t even know how that would work,” Ben Hovland, commissioner for the US Election Assistance Commission (EAC) told ABC News. “The voting machines in most cases belong to the local jurisdictions. These are state and local property rights, so I don’t even know how useful it is.”
Over the past year, Powell has built a reputation for going beyond what other lawyers would consider. She took on Flynn’s defense after the former national security adviser pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents and was reprimanded by a federal judge in court. Powell forged a new strategy: withdraw his plea and blame his former defense attorney and the FBI for his legal troubles. The tactic received harsh criticism but ended with the Justice Department withdrawing the indictment and Trump issuing a full apology to Flynn.
Powell was also one of Trump’s most vocal advisers, advocating the idea that his 2020 election defeat, with more than 7 million votes, was actually a mirage. The result of a number of forces had planned the theft of the election from him. A number of damning court rulings rejected these claims, as did electoral technology experts.
As of Saturday, Dominion Voting Machines had not heard from Powell or her legal team about demanding that she withdraw her allegations against the company, a Dominion spokesperson confirmed to ABC News.
“The withdrawal request presents Ms. Powell with an easy choice. She can withdraw her false and defamatory claims about the company and its voting systems or continue to face further legal action,” the Dominion spokeswoman told ABC News earlier this week. “That would mean going to court to settle the matter.”
ABC News’ Ali Dukakis contributed to this report.