Four days after the electoral college certified Joe Biden’s presidential victory, then-President Donald Trump, his legal team and several White House advisers had an election fraud meeting in the Oval Office that devolved into a shouting and swearing match.
The heated confrontation took place over six hours, first as aides faced off against each other around the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office before it continued upstairs in the Yellow Oval Room, the president’s private living room in the White House residence.
Axios revealed the details of the December 18th showdown as part of its ‘Off the Rails’ series, examining the final days of Trump’s presidency.
Donald Trump, his legal team and several White House advisers had an election fraud meeting in the Oval Office in December that delved into shouting and swearing match
During the meeting, attorney Sidney Powell presented the case she had made publicly time and time again: falsely accusing Dominion Voting Systems of rigging its machines to change votes from Trump to Biden. Dominion is suing Powell for defamation because of her claims.
She suggested to Trump that he declare a national emergency, give her and her allies top-secret security clearances and use the government to seize Dominion’s voting machines.
She named a county in Georgia that she said she could prove Dominion had illegally flipped votes.
But White House senior adviser Eric Herschmann pointed out Trump had actually won the county in question.
‘So your theory is that Dominion intentionally flipped the votes so we could win that county?’ he asked her.
From there, the meeting turned into yelling and cursing match that put Powell and her allies against White House aides with the Powell team presenting themselves as loyalists fighting for Trump and the White House aides determined to follow the law.
Herschmann was criticizing Powell’s legal challenges – her series of ‘Kraken’ cases that she claimed would show the election was stolen through foreign interference. Her claims had been taken up by QAnon conspiracy theorists, who believed it was part of Trump’s fight against the deep state cabal.
Powell’s case documents were filled with typos, none of her allegations had been backed up by evidence and she had yet to win a court case, losing over 60 of them.
‘All you do is promise, but never deliver,’ Herschmann told her.
Former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who hired Powell to represent him in his own federal case before Trump pardoned him, was one of the yellers.
He stood up to face off against the White House adviser.
‘You’re quitting! You’re a quitter! You’re not fighting!’ he shouted at Herschmann.
‘Why the f*** do you keep standing up and screaming at me?’ Herschmann shot back. ‘If you want to come over here, come over here. If not, sit your a** down.’
Flynn sat back down.
During the meeting, attorney Sidney Powell again falsely accused Dominion Voting Systems of rigging its machines to change votes from Trump to Joe Biden
Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, a Powell client, defended the lawyer when White House criticized her for not showing any evidence of her claims
White House senior adviser Eric Herschmann yelled at Michael Flynn: ‘Why the f*** do you keep standing up and screaming at me? … If you want to come over here, come over here. If not, sit your a** down’
White House staff secretary Derek Lyons joined the gathering to bring a copy of a 2018 executive order that Powell’s group kept citing as the key to victory. Signed by Trump, the order was designed to clear the way for the government to sanction foreign actors interfering in U.S. elections.
Powell and her group falsely claimed Venezuela, Iran, and China were among the foreign governments interfering in the election, arguing that meant Trump could use the executive order to act. Again, they never showed proof of their claims.
But Lyons, White House counsel Pat Cippollone and the other White House officials agreed Powell’s theories were nonsensical and the president didn’t have the power.
Meanwhile, no one, including Trump, seemed to know why former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne was in the room.
Byrne suggested Trump take a creative approach to his challenging the election’s legality.
‘Sir, we’re both entrepreneurs, and we both built businesses,’ he said. ‘We know that there are times you have to be creative and take different steps.’
He also attacked the senior White House staffers to their faces. ‘They’ve already abandoned you,’ Byrne told Trump.
Byrne then turned on specifically on Herschmann.
‘You’re a quitter,’ he said. ‘You’ve been interfering with everything. You’ve been cutting us off.’
‘Do you even know who the f*** I am, you idiot?’ Herschmann replied.
‘Yeah, you’re Patrick Cipollone,’ Byrne said, referring to the White House counsel.
‘Wrong! Wrong, you idiot!’
But that didn’t keep Byrne silent.
He said several times during the meeting: ‘I know how this works. I bribed Hillary Clinton $18 million on behalf of the FBI for a sting operation.’
It is unclear what he was talking about.
Meanwhile, no one, including President Trump, seemed to know why former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne was in the meeting
At about hour three mark of the meeting, Trump called his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to pipe him into the discussions; Giuliani urged everyone to calm down
Sidney Powell seen at the White House on December 21
At about hour three mark, Trump called his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and chief of staff Mark Meadows and piped them into the meeting via phone, which would eventually make its way up to the residence.
Giuliani’s legal arguments about the election, which also had yet to bear fruit, focused on allegations of misconduct by corrupt Democrats and election officials – not the foreign interference Powell touted.
The chaos continued and was so bad that, at one point, Giuliani advised everyone to calm down.
One participant told Axios: ‘When Rudy’s the voice of reason, you know the meeting’s not going well.’
Left hanging at the end of all the shouting was the possibility Trump would name Powell as special counsel to examine allegations of voter fraud – a power that technically belonged to the Justice Department but an option the president was considering.
As White House aides left the residence around midnight, they told Trump they had his advice on the matter and could decide what to do.
Trump ultimately never tried to make the appointment for Powell.
Three days after the meeting, Giuliani would publicly distance himself from Powell, telling Newsmax that she did not represent Trump and that ‘whatever she’s talking about, it’s her own opinions.’