A PowerPoint presentation that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has turned over to the House of Representatives select committee investigating the 6 January insurrection alleged that China had effective control of American voting machines and urged the declaration of a “national security emergency” as a pretext for throwing out election results in several US states.
According to a letter to Mr Meadows’ attorney from select committee chair Bennie Thompson, Mr Meadows delivered a copy of the presentation, “Election Fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for 6 JAN” to the committee before ending his cooperation with its investigation into the worst attack on the Capitol since British troops set it ablaze in 1814.
Many of the actions recommended in the presentation — which Mr Meadows reportedly intended to deliver to members of Congress — also match up with ideas floated by other key allies of former president Donald Trump in hopes of keeping him in the White House for a second term against the wishes of American voters.
In a tweet posted late Thursday, Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar called the document “a plan for a coup”.
“We need get serious about what the consequences for that should be,” she said.
A spokesperson for the select committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the presentation from The Independent, but committee vice chair Liz Cheney wrote in a Twitter thread on Thursday that the committee had “received exceptionally interesting and important documents from a number of witnesses”, Mr Meadows included.
The 36-page document, which was intended to be presented to members of Congress before they met in a joint session to certify President Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral college victory, opens with an allegation that the Chinese government “systematically gained control” over the US election system through “compromised” electronic voting machines which could not be trusted to provide an accurate vote count.
It further singles out eight states — Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Georgia, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico — as having had their results corrupted through “domestic voter fraud”.
The specific charges of how vote totals were “fixed” in favour of Mr Biden are largely in line with a grab bag of outlandish and false claims promulgated by people in former president Donald Trump’s inner circle during the period between 7 November — when most news organisations called the 2020 race for Mr Biden — and 6 January, when a mob of Mr Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol in hopes of stopping Congress from carrying out its’ statutory duty to count each state’s electoral votes.
The presentation lays out a theory identical to that which was offered up by Trump campaign attorneys Rudolph Giuliani and Sidney Powell at a now-infamous press conference held at Republican National Committee headquarters on 19 November 2020.
At the time, Ms Powell alleged that she had uncovered the “massive influence of communist money through Venezuela, Cuba, and likely China, in the interference with our elections here in the United States,” and further claimed — without offering evidence — that voting machines made by Dominion Voting Systems used software from a different voting system builder, Smartmatic, with both having been developed “at the direction of Hugo Chavez to make sure he never lost an election”.
None of what Ms Powell alleged about either Dominion or Smartmatic had any basis in reality, and both companies have subsequently filed billion-dollar defamation lawsuits against her.
The presentation also makes recommendations that match up with drastic demands made to a Defence Department official by Ms Powell another erstwhile ally of Mr Trump, ex-White House national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Several slides lay out a scenario under which ballots in all 50 states would have been seized by the US Marshals Service and held for a 50-state hand recount conducted by “select federalized National Guard units” under supervision of a “trusted lead counter” to be appointed by Mr Trump.
Mr Flynn, a retired three-star army general who lasted just three weeks as Mr Trump’s first national security adviser, reportedly pushed a top Defence Department official he’d once worked with to help use national guard units to reverse the results of the election his former boss had lost.
In Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show, author Jonathan Karl reported that Mr Flynn placed a call to then-acting undersecretary of defence for intelligence Ezra Cohen in late 2020, just days after having received a presidential pardon from Mr Trump.
The ex-general reportedly told his former aide to immediately return to Washington from an official trip he was on.
“We need you,” Mr Flynn reportedly said before telling Mr Cohen that he would need to obtain signed orders to seize ballots and take “extraordinary measures…to stop Democrats from stealing the election”.
When the Defence Department official replied that the election was “over” and it was “time to move on”, Mr Flynn berated him for being a “quitter” and maintained that the election was “not over”.
Another slide in the presentation alleges that a computer server in Frankfurt, Germany operated by a company called Scytl was used by “malicious actors” to falsify election results.
The alleged German server — which does not exist — also figured in a call Ms Powell made to Mr Cohen’s private phone number — a number known only within the Pentagon and White House — shortly after he’d spoken with Mr Flynn.
After Mr Cohen answered the unsolicited phone call, Ms Powell demanded that he “launch a special operations mission” to retrieve then-Central Intelligence Agency director Gina Haspel from Germany, where Ms Powell claimed she was being held after sustaining an injury during a secret mission (which never actually happened) to retrieve the server (which did not exist) as part of a cover-up.
It’s unclear to what extent Mr Meadows or other Trump allies were able to get anyone from the Defence Department to take any affirmative steps towards implementing the plans laid out in the presentation, but another document Mr Meadows has reportedly given the committee — an email about “having the National Guard on standby” — may provide further information on the matter.
According to the letter from Mr Thompson, that email — which was sent from Mr Meadows’ personal email account — bore the date of 5 January, one day before the Capitol attack.
Additionally, one of the three “options for 6 January” laid out in the presentation matches a proposal for delaying certification of the Electoral College results which was offered by Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
The option, under which then-vice president Mike Pence would have unilaterally delayed certification of the 2020 election “to allow for a vetting and subsequent counting of the all the legal paper ballots,” matches the plan laid out by Mr Cruz in a statement on 2 January.
Mr Cruz, along with senators Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Steve Daines of Montana, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, and then-senators-elect Cynthia Lummis of Mississippi, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, proposed that rather than count the electoral vote on 6 January, Congress could “immediately appoint an Electoral Commission, with full investigatory and fact-finding authority, to conduct an emergency 10-day audit of the election returns in the disputed states”.
Mr Lankford, who was speaking on the senate floor in support of the delay plan when the pro-Trump mob forced senators and Mr Pence from the chamber into hiding, later dropped his support for a delay, as did Mr Johnson, Ms Blackburn and Mr Daines.