In Brief

Donald Trump mulled using ‘martial law’ to keep the presidency

Senior aides reportedly shot down talk of rerunning the election under military control at a ‘chaotic’ White House meeting

Donald Trump asked aides whether he could impose martial law and order a full rerun of last month’s election, according to several anonymous White House sources.

“The possibility of using the military to enforce a second term is said to have been emphatically rebuffed by many of his closest advisers,” says The Times, “but the fact that it was raised in a chaotic Oval Office meeting on Friday marks a new, severe turn in his attempts to defy his defeat”.

The US president also sought to appoint his campaign lawyer Sydney Powell, who “unleashed conspiracy theories about a Venezuelan plot to rig voting machines in the United States”, to oversee an investigation into voter fraud, The New York Times reports.

“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,” the paper adds.

Undaunted, Trump reportedly went on to discuss the possibility of introducing military rule, an idea first proposed by his former national security adviser Michael Flynn. The president “could take military capabilities and he could place those in states and basically rerun an election in each of those states”, Flynn told the right-wing channel Newmax.

Both Flynn and Powell reportedly attended the meeting at the White House on Friday.

Although Trump has denied the claims and described them as “fake news”, reporters have stood by their detailed accounts, which they say came from White House insiders. Friday’s events “alarmed some White House staffers - people who are used to Trump's inflammatory and anti-democratic rhetoric… and had some Trump officials sounding the alarm to the press”, CNN reports.

Last week the US electoral college confirmed Joe Biden’s victory in the election by a margin of 306 to 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,” says The New York Times.

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