The congressional panel investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol has already spoken to former US Attorney General Bill Barr, according to Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the chairman of the House select committee. Thompson said Sunday on CBS’ Face The Nation that the committee spoke to Barr about a draft executive order which, had it been issued, would have directed the secretary of defense to seize voting machines.
“We’ve had conversations with the former attorney general already,” Thompson told Margaret Brennan, the show’s host. “We’ve talked with Department of Defense individuals. We are concerned that our military was part of this big lie on promoting that the election was false. So if you are using the military to potentially seize voting machines, even though it’s a discussion, the public needs to know.”
NEW: Rep. Thompson, Jan. 6 Select Cmte. Chair, tells @margbrennan that his committee has documents that outline a plan to use defense department assets to seize voting machines in 2020. pic.twitter.com/GmIe8ateVz
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) January 23, 2022
The draft order, first reported by Politico, was one of the documents Trump’s lawyers had been trying to keep on the down low—a request rejected by the Supreme Court just days ago. It shows that the weeks between Election Day and the Capitol attack, Politico notes, “could have been even more chaotic than they were.” As Politico‘s Besty Woodruff Swan writes:
“It credulously cites conspiracy theories about election fraud in Georgia and Michigan, as well as debunked notions about Dominion voting machines.
The order empowers the defense secretary to ‘seize, collect, retain and analyze all machines, equipment, electronically stored information, and material records required for retention under’ a U.S. law that relates to preservation of election records. It also cites a lawsuit filed in 2017 against Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
Additionally, the draft order would have given the defense secretary 60 days to write an assessment of the 2020 election. That suggests it could have been a gambit to keep Trump in power until at least mid-February of 2021.”
Brennan asked Thompson Sunday if the January 6 committee had further evidence that confirmed Trump’s voting-machine plans were operational, and he said “the draft itself is reason enough to believe that it was being proposed,” adding that the committee will investigate Trump’s plan to find out “how far [it] went.”
Thompson said the committee aims to have public hearings on Trump’s use of federal assets “to actually stop the duly election of a president.”