From the Washington Post:
With his baseless claims of widespread voter fraud rejected by dozens of judges and GOP leaders, President Trump has turned to a ragtag group of conspiracy theorists, media-hungry lawyers and other political misfits in a desperate attempt to hold on to power after his election loss.
The president’s orbit has grown more extreme as his more mainstream allies, including Attorney General William P. Barr, have declined to endorse his increasingly radical plans to overturn the will of the voters. Trump’s unofficial election advisory council now includes a pardoned felon, adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory, a White House trade adviser and a Russian agent’s former lover.
Members of the group assembled in the Oval Office on Friday for a marathon meeting that lasted more than four hours and included discussion of tactics ranging from imposing martial law in swing states to seizing voting machines through executive fiat. The meeting exploded into shouting matches as outside advisers and White House aides clashed over the lack of a cohesive strategy and disagreed about the constitutionality of some of the proposed solutions.
Trump’s desire to remain in power was dampened further Monday as Barr said that he saw no basis for the federal government to seize voting machines and that he did not intend to appoint a special counsel to investigate allegations of voter fraud.
“If I thought a special counsel at this stage was the right tool and was appropriate, I would name one, but I haven’t, and I’m not going to,” Barr said during a news conference.
Barr, who is set to leave his post Wednesday amid multiple disagreements with Trump, is the latest administration official to head for the exits or fall out of the president’s favor after not backing his baseless allegations.
In their place, Trump has welcomed figures from the political fringes who have offered him optimism and ideas for how to stay in power. Their brazen proposals have rankled some of the president’s aides and allies, who have warned that attempting to invoke the military or challenge states’ election processes through executive power would violate the Constitution and backfire politically, according to officials who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal strategy.
Trump, however, has been undeterred — despite losing last month’s election to President-elect Joe Biden by more than 7 million votes and a 306-to-232 margin in the electoral college.
After meeting with his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani on Monday, Trump met in the Oval Office with a group of Republicans from the House Freedom Caucus, including Rep.-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), a public supporter of the QAnon conspiracy theory whose campaign was marked by racist, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic statements. That was followed by a second meeting in the Cabinet Room among Giuliani, the House lawmakers and Vice President Pence, an administration official said.
Aides said Trump has been searching frantically for pathways to reverse his loss — sidelining officials who try to level with him about it and embracing those claiming to have a solution.
“They dropped hundreds of thousands of ballots in each state. It’s all documented,” the president claimed falsely in a call Monday to a gathering of the pro-Trump youth organization Turning Point USA in West Palm Beach, Fla. “The problem is that we need a party that’s going to fight. And we have some great congressmen and women that are doing it. And we have others, some great fighters. But we won this in a landslide. They know it, and we need backing from — like the Justice Department and other people have to finally step up.”
Greene is among House members who have indicated they would try to challenge congressional certification of the election result on Jan. 6. Trump has been encouraging the move despite its long odds, trying to cajole GOP lawmakers to sign on.
“He is grasping at straws,” one senior administration official said. “If you come in and tell him he lost, and that it’s over, he doesn’t want to hear from you. He is looking for people to tell him what he wants to hear.”
The White House and Trump campaign did not respond to requests for comment.
Even Pat Robertson, no stranger to being a total nut job, is telling Trump to give up.
If they had any competency, this crowd would be a real threat to our democracy. Thankfully, they are too dumb to play dead in a cowboy movie.