Jan. 6 Committee Officially Engages With Bill Barr

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The House committee investigating the Capitol riot has now spoken with ex-Attorney General Bill Barr, adding to the pressure around former President Donald Trump amid the panel’s intensifying investigation. It’s not immediately clear what may have been the subject or subjects of Barr’s interactions with the panel, although riot committee chairperson Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) revealed that investigators had conducted “conversations” with individuals including Barr while discussing a troubling draft of an executive order that would have directed the seizure by federal authorities of voting machines and other election-related materials — but a Thompson spokesperson later said that this drafted executive order wasn’t discussed with Barr.

It’s apparently unknown — at least publicly — who actually wrote the draft executive order that recently emerged, although it lines up with pushes from certain allies of the former president, like conspiracy-mongering attorney Sidney Powell. Trump was previously reported to have been exploring the possibility while in office of appointing Powell as a special counsel to investigate election-related issues, and the order outlines the appointment of just such a special counsel — referring to them as “her” in the process. In other words, the draft order could have been from Powell or someone allied with her. As outlined in the proposed order, the prospective special counsel would’ve been set to launch criminal or civil proceedings where they found such moves to be appropriate. The order also specifically directed the Defense Secretary to conduct that seizure of election-related items — so the proposal was for the military to, in some capacity, take over the continuance of the electoral process.

On CBS, Thompson commented as follows:

‘If you are using the military to potentially seize voting machines, even though it’s a discussion, the public needs to know. We’ve never had that before. And so any of these individuals who are participating in trying to stop the election… if we can document it, we will share it with the public… We have information that between the Department of Justice, a plan was put forward to potentially seize voting machines in the country and utilize Department of Defense assets to make that happen.’

This conspiracy isn’t the only one tied to Trump’s attempts to overturn the election outcome that’s recently been under scrutiny. Concerned observers including prosecutors in key states have also been dealing with a cross-state scheme to assemble essentially falsified electoral votes on Trump’s behalf. At the federal level, a proposal from conservative lawyer John Eastman — who had the backing of Trump himself, involved having then-VP Mike Pence, in his capacity overseeing the Congressional proceedings to certify the election, reject Biden’s wins from certain states because of the competing slates of electoral votes — although the Trump votes didn’t have any meaningful legal grounding. Also: Pence didn’t possess the legally recognized power to reject electoral votes.