National: Trump assembles a ragtag crew of conspiracy-minded allies in flailing bid to reverse election loss | Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey, Rosalind S. Helderman and Emma Brown/The Washington Post
With his baseless claims of widespread voter fraud rejected by dozens of judges and GOP leaders, President Trump has turned to a ragtag group of conspiracy theorists, media-hungry lawyers and other political misfits in a desperate attempt to hold on to power after his election loss. The president’s orbit has grown more extreme as his more mainstream allies, including Attorney General William P. Barr, have declined to endorse his increasingly radical plans to overturn the will of the voters. Trump’s unofficial election advisory council now includes a pardoned felon, adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory, a White House trade adviser and a Russian agent’s former lover. Members of the group assembled in the Oval Office on Friday for a marathon meeting that lasted more than four hours and included discussion of tactics ranging from imposing martial law in swing states to seizing voting machines through executive fiat. The meeting exploded into shouting matches as outside advisers and White House aides clashed over the lack of a cohesive strategy and disagreed about the constitutionality of some of the proposed solutions. Trump’s desire to remain in power was dampened further Monday as Barr said that he saw no basis for the federal government to seize voting machines and that he did not intend to appoint a special counsel to investigate allegations of voter fraud. “If I thought a special counsel at this stage was the right tool and was appropriate, I would name one, but I haven’t, and I’m not going to,” Barr said during a news conference.