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Pentagon officials reportedly 'stunned' as acting Defense secretary halts Biden transition briefings

Brendan Morrow
Fri, December 18, 2020, 11:54 AM EST

Pentagon officials have been left "stunned" after acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller ordered a "Pentagon-wide halt to cooperation" with President-elect Joe Biden's transition, Axios reports.

Miller, according to the report, on Thursday night ordered officials to cancel transition meetings that had previously been scheduled, "which stunned officials throughout the Pentagon." Officials reportedly were not clear on what led to the decision, and Axios says a top Biden official wasn't aware of the order.

A senior Defense Department official told Axios this was a "simple delay of the last few scheduled meetings until after the new year," saying they had "fewer than two dozen remaining meetings on the schedule today and next week" and staff was "overwhelmed by the number of meetings." The official added, "With the holidays we are taking a knee for two weeks. We are still committed to a productive transition."

But Axios writes that officials "across the Defense Department" were shocked by the move, which comes after President Trump delayed the official beginning of Biden's transition while refusing to accept the results of the 2020 presidential election.Read more at Axios.



Senior Trump administration officials are increasingly alarmed that President Trump might unleash — and abuse — the power of government in an effort to overturn the clear result of the election.

Why it matters: These officials tell me that Trump is spending too much time with people they consider crackpots or conspiracy theorists and flirting with blatant abuses of power.

  • There are 32 days until President-elect Biden's inauguration.

The big picture: Their fears include Trump's interest in former national security adviser Michael Flynn's wild talk of martial law; an idea floated of an executive order to commandeer voting machines; and the specter of Sidney Powell, the conspiracy-spewing election lawyer, obtaining governmental power and a top-level security clearance.

A senior administration official said that when Trump is "retweeting threats of putting politicians in jail, and spends his time talking to conspiracy nuts who openly say declaring martial law is no big deal, it’s impossible not to start getting anxious about how this ends."

  • "People who are concerned and nervous aren’t the weak-kneed bureaucrats that we loathe," the official added. "These are people who have endured arguably more insanity and mayhem than any administration officials in history."

At Friday's meeting, first reported by The New York Times, Trump discussed making Powell a special counsel for election fraud.

  • The ideas included commandeering voting machines, with Powell as a special counsel to inspect the machines, according to a source familiar with the meeting.
  • White House counsel Pat Cipollone and chief of staff Mark Meadows "pushed back strenuously and repeatedly against the ideas put forth by Sidney Powell,” the source said.
  • The meeting included Flynn, who was pardoned by Trump in November and is a celebrity with election-denying Trump supporters.



...from the "American Pravda",
the New York Times  ( N  Y  T  ):

Trump Weighed Naming Election Conspiracy Theorist as Special Counsel

In a meeting at the White House on Friday, President Trump weighed appointing Sidney Powell, who promoted conspiracy theories about rigged voting machines, to investigate voter fraud.

President Trump has been in contact with Sidney Powell in recent days, even though his campaign last month sought to distance itself from her as she aired baseless claims about Dominion Voting Systems machines.Credit...Samuel Corum for The New York Times

  • Dec. 19, 2020

President Trump on Friday discussed naming Sidney Powell, who as a lawyer for his campaign team unleashed conspiracy theories about a Venezuelan plot to rig voting machines in the United States, to be a special counsel overseeing an investigation of voter fraud, according to two people briefed on the discussion.

It was unclear if Mr. Trump will move ahead with such a plan.

Most of his advisers opposed the idea, two of the people briefed on the discussion said, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer. In recent days Mr. Giuliani has sought to have the Department of Homeland Security join the campaign’s efforts to overturn Mr. Trump’s loss in the election.

Mr. Giuliani joined the discussion by phone initially, while Ms. Powell was at the White House for a meeting that became raucous and involved people shouting at each other at times, according to one of the people briefed on what took place.

Ms. Powell’s client, retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser whom the president recently pardoned, was also there, two of the people briefed on the meeting said. Some senior administration officials drifted in and out of the meeting.

During an appearance on the conservative Newsmax channel this week, Mr. Flynn pushed for Mr. Trump to impose martial law and deploy the military to “rerun” the election. At one point in the meeting on Friday, Mr. Trump asked about that idea.

Ms. Powell’s ideas were shot down by every other Trump adviser present, all of whom repeatedly pointed out that she had yet to back up her claims with proof. At one point, one person briefed on the meeting said, she produced several affidavits, but upon inspection they were all signed by a man she has previously used as an expert witness, whose credentials have been called into question.

The White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, and the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, repeatedly and aggressively pushed back on the ideas being proposed, which went beyond the special counsel idea, those briefed on the meeting said.

Mr. Cipollone told Mr. Trump there was no constitutional authority for what was being discussed, one of the people briefed on the meeting said. Other advisers from the White House and the Trump campaign delivered the same message throughout the meeting, which stretched on for a long period of time.

Mr. Trump was defeated in the election by President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. by more than 7 million votes. The states have confirmed Mr. Biden’s Electoral College victory by a margin of 306-232.

But Mr. Trump, egged on by supporters like Ms. Powell, has never conceded and, holed up inside the White House, he continues to assert that he actually won — even though the baseless claims Ms. Powell and others have made of widespread fraud have been thoroughly debunked and even many of Mr. Trump’s closest allies have dismissed as preposterous her tale of an international conspiracy to rig the vote.

Mr. Trump tends to think of Justice Department appointees when he describes special counsels, but those briefed on the meeting said the idea was for Ms. Powell to serve as a special counsel within the White House, appointed by the president, according to those briefed on it.

Mr. Trump also asked about Ms. Powell being given security clearances to pursue her work, two of the people briefed on the meeting said.

Ms. Powell accused other Trump advisers of being quitters, according to the people briefed.

But the idea that Mr. Trump would try to install Ms. Powell in a position to investigate the outcome sent shock waves through the president’s circle. She has repeatedly claimed there was widespread fraud, but several lawsuits she filed related to election fraud have been tossed out of court.

A White House spokesman, Ms. Powell and a spokeswoman for Mr. Giuliani did not respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Trump has been in contact with Ms. Powell at other times in recent days, even though his campaign last month sought to distance itself from her as she aired wild and baseless claims about Dominion Voting Systems machines, which were used in some states, somehow being connected to a Venezuelan plot to control the election.

Dominion officials have demanded that Ms. Powell retract her claims. The Trump campaign on Saturday sent a memo to campaign officials telling them to preserve documents related to Ms. Powell and Dominion in case of legal action by the company against Ms. Powell, according to a report by CNN that a campaign official confirmed.

Since the election, Mr. Trump had pushed the outgoing attorney general, William P. Barr, to appoint a special counsel to look into election fraud, as well as one to investigate Hunter Biden, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s son. Mr. Barr, people briefed on the matter, has been unwilling to do what Mr. Trump wanted.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani have been pushing for data that would provide evidence of widespread election fraud. Mr. Barr has said the Justice Department has found *** no evidence of fraud *** on a scale that would change the outcome of the election.


Part of the White House meeting on Friday night was a discussion about an executive order to take control of voting machines to examine them, according to one of the people briefed on the discussion.

Mr. Giuliani has separately pressed the Department of Homeland Security to seize possession of voting machines as part of a push to overturn the results of the election, three people familiar with the discussion said. Mr. Giuliani was told the department does not have the authority to do such a thing.

The conversation between Mr. Giuliani and Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, the acting deputy secretary of the Homeland Security Department, took place in the past week, according to the people familiar with the discussion, who were granted anonymity because they were not authorized to describe the conversation.

The department oversees the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the agency responsible for safeguarding critical systems, such as elections and hospitals.

Mr. Cuccinelli is said to have told Mr. Giuliani that there is no authority by which the agency, which spent the year working with state election officials to prepare for the election, could assert control over voting machines in those states.

It was unclear whether Mr. Trump facilitated the phone call.

Mr. Giuliani called Mr. Cuccinelli this week to push the department to re-examine the machines to find evidence of what the Trump campaign has called widespread fraud, two of the people briefed on the discussion said.

The effort by Mr. Trump’s campaign to use the cybersecurity agency in the push to overturn the results of the election comes after the president last month fired the head of that agency, Christopher C. Krebs. Before he was ousted, Mr. Krebs joined other top election officials in calling the 2020 election “the most secure in American history.”

( NOTE- Mr. Krebs was the man in charge of cyber security while the ChiComs were hacking us blind. So much for HIS learned opinions)

State and local governments take the lead in managing elections in the United States while the cybersecurity agency primarily provides support, guidance and intelligence with the local leaders on potential threats to the voting system.

“We don’t own those networks and we do not have independent legal authority to go in and start combing through those networks,” said Suzanne Spaulding, an under secretary for cybersecurity and critical infrastructure in the Obama administration. “Efforts that appear to be driving a partisan agenda, particularly completely unfounded allegations, significantly undermine the hard work these men and women have been engaged in for years.”

Mr. Cuccinelli, who led the federal government’s legal immigration agency before rising to become the second highest ranking official in the Homeland Security Department, emerged as one of the public faces of the department’s cybersecurity efforts in the weeks before the election, joining Mr. Krebs in urging patience when it comes to counting the votes.





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