AP sources: Trump floats Sidney Powell as special counsel
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump has appointed named attorney Sidney Powell, who was fired from his campaign's legal team after setting up unsubstantiated conspiracy theories, as a special adviser investigating allegations of election fraud when he searches for straws to participate in the Power to stay.
During a Friday meeting at the White House, Trump even went about obtaining the Powell security clearance, according to two people familiar with the meeting, who spoke about the private conversation on condition of anonymity.
Trump's even having the idea of installing Powell underscores the increasingly desperate steps he has weighed as he tries to reverse the results of the November 3 election, which he lost to Democrat Joe Biden. Trump entertained conspiracy theories and fancy plans to stay in office, instigated by allies such as former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal attorney.
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It is unclear whether Trump intends to push Powell's installation. Under federal law, the US Attorney General, not the President, is responsible for appointing special advisers. And numerous Republicans, from outgoing Attorney General William Barr to governors and government officials, have said time and time again that there is no evidence of the kind of mass voter fraud that Trump has unsubstantiatedly alleged in the weeks since his loss. The Friday meeting was first reported by the New York Times.
Trump not only lost the referendum by more than 7 million votes, but also the electoral college decisively to Biden, 306 votes against 232.
Trump's campaign and his allies have now filed around 50 lawsuits over widespread election fraud, and almost all of them have been dismissed or dropped. Trump has lost to judges on both political parties, including some he has appointed, and some of the strongest rebukes come from Conservative Republicans. The Supreme Court has also refused to take up two cases - decisions Trump despised.
With no further tenable legal remedy, Trump has been searching allies for options when he refuses to accept his loss.
This includes Giuliani, who during the Friday meeting urged Trump to seize voting machines in his search for evidence of fraud. However, the Department of Homeland Security made it clear that it had no authority to do this. It is also unclear what this would do.
Barr told The Associated Press in an interview earlier this month that the Department of Justice and Homeland Security was investigating claims that voting machines “were essentially programmed to skew election results ... and we haven't seen anything This could prove that. "Paper votes are also held under federal law and have been used to review results, including in Georgia where two paper vote reviews were conducted.
Flynn, whom Trump recently apologized for lying to the FBI, went further, suggesting that Trump could impose martial law and use the military to re-run the election. Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows and White House attorney Pat Cipollone voiced their objections, people familiar with the meeting said.
Powell was originally part of the President's Legal Team but was booted after a bizarre press conference with Giuliani during which she made a number of outlandish allegations of election fraud, including claims that voting software was created in Venezuela "under the direction of Hugo Chavez" - the Venezuelan President who died in 2013.
In interviews and appearances, Powell continued to make misleading statements about the voting process, unfolding unsupported and complex conspiracy theories involving communist regimes, and promising to blow up Georgia with a "biblical" court record.
Trump's team soon announced that it had severed ties with Powell. "She is not a member of the Trump Legal Team. Nor is she an attorney for the president in his personal capacity," Giuliani and another Trump attorney, Jenna Ellis, said in a statement.
Dominion Voting Systems, a specific Powell target, has also requested that it withdraw the "wild" and "knowingly baseless" claims it made about the voting machine company and threatened defamation lawsuits.
Since Powell broke up with the campaign, he has continued to file litigation for Trump, partnering with conservative Georgia attorney L. Lin Wood.
Powell and the White House did not respond to requests for comment on Saturday.
Lemire reported from New York. Associate press writer Michael Balsamo contributed to this report.
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