Trump wanted conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell as special counsel on voter fraud – report

Donald Trump pushed to have the lawyer and “kraken” conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell named as a special counsel to investigate supposed electoral fraud, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

Citing two anonymous sources, the newspaper said most presidential advisers including personal attorney Rudy Giuliani pushed back against the plan, which Trump floated at a meeting on Friday.

The Times also reported that Trump asked aides about the former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s suggestion of deploying the US military to battleground states, in order to re-stage votes central to Joe Biden’s victory.

“That was also shot down,” the well-sourced reporter Maggie Haberman wrote, drily, on Twitter.

Trump pardoned Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during the Russia investigation, in November.

Biden’s victory has been certified by the electoral college and the Democrat leads in the popular vote by more than 7m ballots. Nonetheless, Trump has refused to concede and claims without evidence that the election was rigged against him.

It was reported this week that he had threatened not to leave the White House on inauguration day, 20 January.

“He’s throwing a fucking temper tantrum,” CNN quoted an unnamed adviser as saying. “He’s going to leave. He’s just lashing out.”

But the same report cited an anonymous source as saying the atmosphere in the White House had “turned crazy”.

Trump’s legal team suffered more than 50 defeats in court cases over electoral fraud. Powell was cut from the team almost a month ago, after making bizarre claims including that voting software used in key states was created at the direction of the Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, who died in 2013.

She also promised to “release the kraken”, a reference to a terrible sea monster of myth and legend. No kraken, legal or otherwise, was forthcoming.

The Times report about Trump’s wish to bring her back into the fold came shortly after the president played down Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s admission that a vast hack against the US government and private companies had been carried out by Russia.

Powell “was at the White House for a meeting that became raucous at times”, the Times said. “Other administration officials drifted in and out … and the White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, pushed back on the ideas being proposed.

“Ms Powell accused other Trump advisers of being quitters … but the idea that Mr Trump would try to install Ms Powell in a position to investigate the outcome sent shock waves through the president’s circle.”

The paper also said Giuliani had “separately pressed the Department of Homeland Security to seize possession of voting machines”, but had been “told the department does not have the authority to do such a thing”.

On Twitter, Haberman added: “The fact of the meeting – and Giuliani hope of seizing the voting machines – has alarmed some of the president’s advisers, who see his … refusal to accept the election results as in a dangerous new place.”