Emma Brown, Jon Swaine, Jacqueline Alemany, Josh Dawsey, and Tom Hamburger at WP:
A retired U.S. Army colonel who circulated a proposal to challenge the 2020 election, including by declaring a national security emergency and seizing paper ballots, said that he visited the White House on multiple occasions after the election, spoke with President Donald Trump’s chief of staff “maybe eight to 10 times” and briefed several members of Congress on the eve of the Jan. 6 riot.
Phil Waldron, the retired colonel, was working with Trump’s outside lawyers and was part of a team that briefed the lawmakers on a PowerPoint presentation detailing “Options for 6 JAN,” Waldron told The Washington Post. He said his contribution to the presentation focused on his claims of foreign interference in the vote, as did his discussions with the White House.
A version of the presentation made its way to the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, on Jan. 5. That information surfaced publicly this week after the congressional committee investigating the insurrection released a letter that said Meadows had turned the document over to the committee.
Although Trump at the time was pressuring Pence to delay certifying Biden’s victory, it is not clear how widely the PowerPoint was circulated or how seriously the ideas in it were considered. A lawyer for Meadows, George J. Terwilliger III, said on Friday that there was no indication that Meadows did anything with the document after receiving it by email. “We produced it [to the committee] because it was not privileged,” Terwilliger said. A Meadows spokesman, Ben Williamson, declined to comment. Waldron said he was not the person who sent the PowerPoint to Meadows.
Still, Waldron’s account of his interactions with the White House, together with a 36-page version of the presentation that surfaced online this week and was reviewed by The Post, shed new light on the wild theories and proposals that circulated among the people advising Trump as they worked to overturn his election defeat, causing a crisis at the heart of government. They suggest that Meadows, who also pressed senior Justice Department leaders to investigate baseless conspiracy theories about election fraud, was more directly in contact with proponents of such theories than was previously known.
A Donald Trump campaign lawyer wrote two legal memos in the week before the Jan. 6 Capitol attack that claimed then-Vice President Mike Pence had the authority to refuse to count presidential electors from states that delivered Joe Biden the White House.
The memos from then-Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis, which contain widely disputed legal theories about Pence’s ability to stop a Biden presidency, underscore Ellis’ promotion of extreme arguments that she promulgated amid Trump's effort to reverse the election results. Her actions have remained largely below the radar as House investigators probe Trump’s inner circle.
A Dec. 31 Ellis memo delivered to Trump’s office suggested that Pence — who was constitutionally responsible for presiding over Congress’ counting of electoral votes on Jan. 6 — should simply refuse to open envelopes from states whose election results Trump considered to be fraudulent. That memo was described by ABC reporter Jonathan Karl in his recent book “Betrayal.” POLITICO is publishing it in full for the first time.
In a second, previously unreported memo dated Jan. 5, Ellis made a more technical legal argument that she delivered to Jay Sekulow, one of Trump's outside lawyers. Sekulow represented Trump during his first impeachment and in a series of legal battles during his administration, but he had minimal involvement in Trump’s election litigation. The exception was an early November Supreme Court case regarding Pennsylvania’s mail-in ballots.