Reports of martial-law talk in Trump meeting draw outrage

Trump denies reports of meeting where idea of deploying military to overturn election was raised

WASHINGTON: With one month to go until Democrat Joe Biden takes office, US President Donald Trump remains fixated on his failed bid to overturn the 2020 election - with his advisers reportedly floating the idea of invoking martial law, triggering outrage and disbelief.

According to accounts in The New York Times, CNN and The Wall Street Journal, the president oversaw a turbulent White House meeting to discuss new ways to resist or overturn Mr Biden's victory - with the idea of deploying the military to assist being raised, before being argued down.

Multiple reports said Mr Trump also considered seizing election machines to inspect them; and naming Ms Sidney Powell, a lawyer for his campaign team who has put forward outlandish conspiracy theories, as a special counsel to keep digging into Mr Trump's unsubstantiated claims of election fraud.

Present at the fractious Oval Office meeting was retired General Michael Flynn, who was briefly the national security adviser before resigning under pressure, admitting to lying to the FBI, and then, last month, being pardoned by Mr Trump.

Mr Flynn recently told a Newsmax television interviewer that Mr Trump could "take military capabilities and place them in those (battleground) states and basically rerun our election".


Mr Trump denied reports about the Friday meeting in a tweet shortly after midnight on Saturday, saying, "Martial law = Fake News. Just more knowingly bad reporting!"

Several senior military officers have made clear that they would take no part in any effort to overturn the results of an election that has been certified by every state and confirmed by the Electoral College.

"There is no role for the US military in determining the outcome of an American election," Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and Army Chief of Staff James McConville said in a statement on Friday.

Accounts of the meeting - which reportedly at times turned into "screaming matches" - drew strong condemnation.

Many of the President's advisers pushed back hard in the meeting against the notion of martial law, according to The New York Times.

Mr John Bolton, a former Trump national security adviser, called the meeting's reported contents "appalling" .

"There is no other way to describe it. It is unbelievable - almost certainly completely without precedent." - AFP