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Did the Trump Administration Really Plan To Seize Voting Machines?

Donald Trump
President of the United States Donald Trump speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Image by: Gage Skidmore.

CNN is alleging that a string of texts they received indicate that then Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was involved in a scheme to seize voting machines during the 2020 election.

“As allies of then-President Donald Trump made a final push to overturn the election in late-December 2020, one of the key operatives behind the effort briefed … Mark Meadows about his attempts to gain access to voting systems in key battleground states, starting with Arizona and Georgia,” CNN reported.

The “key operative” is Phil Waldron, a retired Army colonel and “an early proponent of various election-related conspiracy theories.” Waldron made headlines earlier this year when he sued “to block the Jan.6 select committee from obtaining his phone records from AT&T.” In filing the suit, Waldron described himself as a “consultant” hired “to assist in the investigation of matters related to the Election.”

Now, apparently, “Waldron was deeply involved in a scheme to seize voting machines in states with close electoral margins,” Rolling Stone reported. “He allegedly drafted an executive order for the White House instructing the seizure of voting machines but the order never came to fruition, as it was very clearly illegal.” 

That Waldron was in close communication with the White House Chief of Staff has piqued investigators’ interest. Meadows’s role in challenging the election results has been under investigation for some time – but “it has become increasingly apparent he acted as a liaison between the White House and those pushing fraudulent schemes to undermine the democratic process and preserve Trump’s power,” Rolling Stone reported.

Both Meadows and Waldron were subpoenaed during the January 6th committee hearings. The committee was able to obtain, from Meadows, a 38-slide PowerPoint presentation that Waldron had created, which proposed multiple methods for challenging the 2020 election result. 

Denver Riggleman, a former member of the House and technical adviser to the January 6th committee, said during a 60 Minutes interview that messages the committee had obtained from Meadows were a “roadmap to an attempted coup.” Riggleman, who served as a military intelligence officer, oversaw “a data-driven operation for the committee that used digital clues, including phone records, e-mails, social media posts, and text messages related to the attack on the Capitol,” CBS reported. “That included a trove of more than 2,000 text messages provided to the committee by … Meadows.” Riggleman compared the Trump administration communications he reviewed to those coming from foreign terrorist groups. “It sounded like, honestly, the way that they talked, and the way that they referred to this, this ‘epic struggle,’ almost sounded like me look at foreign terrorist groups in my past,” Riggleman said. 

The Waldron texts were not the only high-profile communications Meadows had regarding the election results; Meadows was also texting with Ginni Thomas, wife of SCOTUS Justice Clarence Thomas.

Despite the correspondence between Meadows and Waldron, the question remains as to how sincerely Trump attempted to thwart the 2020 Election results. The media has relentlessly been pursuing the idea that Trump attempted to overturn the election results; but to date, nothing has really stuck – and no criminal activity has been identified. The Meadows-Waldron connection may be another tantalizing lead that ultimately amounts to nothing. And whether Meadows was operating under his own accord, or rather as Trump had directed, remains to be seen.

While I’m hesitant to dismiss what could be a high-ranking member of the Trump administration colluding with election deniers in an attempt to bypass the result of the 2020 Election – at this point, the media has a Boy Who Cried Wolf thing going on. Trump ultimately left office of his own volition.

Democracy is fragile and must be guarded against – but the endless Trump-bashing/Trump-paranoia makes legitimate claims against election deniers/real threats to democracy harder to discern. 

Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. He lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken. Follow him on Twitter @harrison_kass.

Written By

Harrison Kass is a Senior Defense Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison has degrees from Lake Forest College, the University of Oregon School of Law, and New York University’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. He lives in Oregon and regularly listens to Dokken.