Republican donor and pillow salesman Mike Lindell, an ally of outgoing US President Donald Trump who has pushed baseless accusations of fraud in the 2020 election, was photographed at the White House Friday with documents floating the possibility of declaring martial law in the final days of Trump’s presidency.
Zoomed in photos of a document held in Lindell’s hand as he visited the West Wing showed text fragments that included the words “…BE TAKEN IMMEDIATELY TO SAVE THE…THE CONSTITUTION,” as well as “Insurrection Act now as a result of the assault on the…” and “…martial law if necessary upon the first hint of any…”
Lindell later told the Daily Beast he had presented the president with documents he believed proved China and other countries had helped steal the election.
He said Trump had told him to show his documents to attorneys, who rejected the claims but also said they would “look into it.”
— Jabin Botsford (@jabinbotsford) January 15, 2021
In the wake of the election, which he has repeatedly claimed was stolen from him despite no evidence to support this, and despite multiple courts rejecting all such claims, Trump has increasingly surrounded himself with a band of extreme loyalists, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn and attorney Sidney Powell. Flynn has also suggested the possibility of declaring martial law as the president fights to overturn the election results.
Lindell has no credentials beyond being the owner of the My Pillow brand. On Friday he posted on Facebook: “Keep the faith everyone! We will have our president Donald Trump 4 more years!”
President-elect Joe Biden is set to be sworn in on Wednesday, January 20. Amid fears of violence, governors across the US are calling out National Guard troops, declaring states of emergency and closing their capitols to the public.
State officials hope to avoid the type of violence that occurred January 6, when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol, leaving a Capitol Police officer and four others dead.
The FBI has warned of the potential for violence at all state capitols and has said it is tracking an “extensive amount of concerning online chatter,” including calls for armed protests.
Governors across the country are sending thousands of National Guard troops to Washington, DC, where the National Mall has been closed to the general public as part of an intense security effort.
Meanwhile, Trump is expected to leave Washington Wednesday morning just before Biden’s inauguration to begin his post-presidential life in Florida.
Refusing to abide by tradition and participate in the ceremonial transfer of power, Trump will instead hold his own departure ceremony at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland before his final flight aboard Air Force One.
Officials are considering an elaborate send-off event reminiscent of the receptions he’s received during state visits abroad, complete with a red carpet, color guard, military band and even a 21-gun salute, according to a person familiar with the planning who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of a formal announcement.
Trump will become only the fourth president in history to boycott his successor’s inauguration. And while he has said he is now committed to a peaceful transition of power — after months of trying to delegitimize Biden’s victory with baseless allegations of mass voter fraud and spurring on his supporters who stormed the Capitol — he has made clear he has no interest in making a show of it.
He has not invited the Bidens to the White House for the traditional bread-breaking, nor has he spoken with Biden by phone. Vice President Mike Pence has spoken with his successor, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, calling her on Thursday to congratulate her and offer assistance, according to two people familiar with the call. Pence will be attending Biden’s inauguration, a move Biden has welcomed.
While Trump spends the final days of his presidency ensconced in the White House, more isolated than ever as he confronts the fallout from the Capitol riot, staffers are already heading out the door. Many have already departed, including those who resigned after the attack, while others have been busy packing up their offices and moving out personal belongings.
Trump will leave Washington with his future deeply uncertain, two weeks after his supporters sent lawmakers and congressional staffers scrambling for safety as they tried to halt the peaceful transition of power. While Trump was once expected to leave office as the most powerful voice in the Republican Party and the leading contender for its 2024 nomination, he has been shunned by much of the party over his response to the violence.
His encouragement of the mob led the US House this week to impeach him for “incitement of insurrection,” and made him the first US president to be impeached twice. A Senate trial is expected after he leaves office.