A former member of President Donald Trump’s legal team told the Jan. 6 committee that former Army colonel Phil Waldron first came up with the idea of Trump issuing an executive order to seize voting machines, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Earlier this month, Bernie Kerik — who worked with Rudy Giuliani on Trump’s legal efforts to find evidence of voter fraud — told the select committee that Phil Waldron originated the scheme, which would almost certainly have been illegal. A person familiar with Kerik’s testimony, who was not authorized to discuss it publicly, described it in detail to POLITICO.
Last week, the select committee obtained a copy of a draft executive order written for Trump. The order, which Trump did not issue, would have directed the Defense secretary to seize voting machines. It also would have given the secretary 60 days to write an assessment of the 2020 election — a timeline that would have expired a month after Biden’s inauguration day. POLITICO published the text of the draft order last week.
Waldron is best known for circulating a 38-page PowerPoint presentation that urged Trump to declare a state of emergency in the wake of the election, as The Washington Post has detailed. That presentation found its way into the inbox of Mark Meadows while he was White House chief of staff. Meadows passed the presentation to the select committee last year, and his lawyer has said Meadows did nothing with it. Waldron has said he briefed members of Congress on the findings detailed in the presentation, including claims about voter fraud.
Kerik and Waldron both worked with Giuliani on Trump’s post-election outside legal team. POLITICO could not independently confirm Kerik’s claim to the committee about Waldron and the voting machines, but Waldron is a key focus of the committee. On Dec. 16, the committee subpoenaed him for documents and testimony, citing the PowerPoint presentation. Kerik’s testimony to the committee came after investigators issued the subpoena.
In his voluntary interview with the committee, Kerik also called the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol “counterproductive,” according to the source. Kerik indicated that the riot eliminated any hope he and his team had of getting government authorities to take their fraud allegations seriously.
Additionally, Kerik discussed friction regarding Trump attorney Sidney Powell, as well as financial frustrations. He noted that he struggled even to get reimbursement for his stays at the Willard hotel, and that he was paying for his lawyer out of his own pocket.