Former President Donald Trump wanted to name Sidney Powell as the special counsel to investigate the presidential race, the former CEO of Overstock.com said in a court filing Thursday.
Powell, a lawyer who helped Trump’s attempt to find fraud in the 2020 election, was in the Oval Office in December 2020 along with former Gen. Michael Flynn and Overstock’s Patrick Byrne to discuss the outlandish election claims, according to court papers filed in the Southern District of Florida.
During the meeting, Trump and Powell discussed alleged FBI reports of “foreign interference” in the election involving SolarWinds and the hacking of cloud providers and tech companies.
White House counsel Pat Cipollone, his deputy Patrick Philbin and another lawyer, Eric Herschmann, were also present.
Byrne has made similar allegations in his book, “The Deep Rig: How Election Fraud Cost Donald J. Trump the White House.”
He said a number of options were discussed at the Dec. 18 meeting, including dispatching small teams to “counties to image the hard drive of the appropriate county election system (and/or conduct livestreamed recount and/or simply recover the election equipment for full exploitation by federal authorities).”
Another notion was to name a special counsel to investigate, an idea that Cipollone opposed, remarking “Never in American history has there ever been this kind of a challenge to an election.”
But Flynn, who had been working with the Trump campaign, responded that there was never a situation in American history “with counting being shut down for hours, foreigners connecting to our equipment.”
Cipollone then said Trump did not have the authority to name a special counsel.
Later, Byrne writes, a visibly frustrated Cipollone said he didn’t want any involvement in naming a special counsel.
“Hey if you want to do this you don’t need my permission. You don’t even need a pen or a piece of paper. You can just say, ‘I hire Sidney Powell as White House Special Counsel,’ and it’s done,” Byrne says in the papers, quoting Cipollone.
About a half-hour later after the continued debate, Trump turned to the White House counsel.
“You know, Pat? A few minutes ago you said that I can make it happen just by saying it. Well …. OK. I have decided, now I’m saying it. ‘Sidney Powell is hereby appointed as White House Special Counsel,’” the former CEO quoted Trump.
The then-President Trump told the White House lawyers: “I grant Sidney Powell a Top Secret security clearance.”
At that point, the White House counsels stormed out of the Oval Office
Cipollone, in his deposition to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, said he had been “vehemently opposed” to the special counsel idea.
About Powell, who floated a number of allegations about meddling in the election, including Venezuela being involved, Cipollone said: “I don’t think she should be appointed anything.”
Byrne said he later learned from Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani that the president had reversed his decision shortly after the Oval Office meeting on Dec. 18 ended and never implemented the special counsel.
The court filing was in response to the Justice Department’s motion about the affidavit giving agents authority to search Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida on Aug. 8 for classified documents.
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