As new details come to light about the role former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows played in former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, the emergence in recent news reports of a different name — Phil Waldron — is yet another reminder of the direct links between those authoritarian efforts and the wave of partisan election reviews occurring in several states.
Last week, the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack released a letter referencing documents Meadows had turned over to congressional investigators, including a PowerPoint presentation outlining plans for preventing the certification of Joe Biden’s election. Waldron, a retired Army colonel who has been involved in several election-undermining endeavors, told news outlets that he had circulated the same document to Trump allies and had used it during briefings on Capitol Hill in the days before Jan. 6.
American Oversight has previously uncovered records of Waldron’s communications with state leaders conducting unnecessary and partisan “audits” of 2020 election results. Some of those documents were mentioned in a recent Washington Post article that reported that Waldron frequently spoke with Meadows and visited the White House to present his baseless claims of widespread election fraud in the weeks following the election. The Post cited text communications we obtained that show Arizona Senate President Karen Fann consulted Waldron when hiring for the widely discredited “audit” of votes cast in Maricopa County.
Other records obtained by American Oversight, detailed below, include additional communications of Waldron with Arizona Senate leaders as well as evidence of his contact with several prominent proponents of the Big Lie and election-overturning schemes, including lawyer John Eastman.
Waldron, who retired from the military in 2016, told the Post he began helping Meadows investigate whether the 2020 election had been “hacked” at the end of last year, providing the former chief of staff with information about IP addresses and data security that, according to Waldron, Meadows said he would pass to then-Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe. (Ratcliffe’s spokesman said he had not received the document.) Waldron was also working with Allied Security Operations Group, a Texas company that had been initially considered to conduct the sham Arizona “audit.”
Waldron told the Post that he spoke with Meadows “maybe eight to 10 times” after the election. He also said that he briefed several members of Congress the day before a Trump-incited mob violently stormed the U.S. Capitol. During the briefing, Waldron presented a PowerPoint presentation titled “Election Fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for 6 JAN,” which detailed extreme plans to discredit and overturn the election, including a recommendation for Trump to declare a national emergency to stall the certification of the results.
On Monday, the Jan. 6 committee voted to hold Meadows in criminal contempt for defying a subpoena, and released several text messages from the time of the attack in which Donald Trump Jr. and Fox News hosts pleaded with Meadows to get President Trump to tell the mob to go home.
Last week, Meadows sued House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Jan. 6 committee to block enforcement of the congressional subpoenas, citing concerns about executive privilege. (Trump has sued to block the release of White House records, but an appeals court last week ruled against him, and President Biden has waived executive privilege in the case.) Meadows had earlier provided thousands of pages of records including the PowerPoint presentation, which his lawyer claimed “wasn’t privileged” because Meadows had received it but did not act on it or share it.
Waldron told the New York Times that he circulated the presentation among Trump allies after the election and that, while he did not personally send it to Meadows, one of his colleagues may have. The Post also reported that Jovan H. Pulitzer — a vocal election conspiracy theorist who was also in contact with the Arizona officials behind the election “audit,” as revealed in records uncovered by American Oversight — said he had contributed to the document.
American Oversight has long been investigating Waldron’s role as a proponent of the Big Lie, and we have filed dozens of requests seeking records of his communications with federal and state officials. In the text messages we obtained between Waldron and Fann, dated Feb. 27, Fann asked Waldron if he was “familiar” with the firm Cyber Ninjas or its CEO Doug Logan. In response, Waldron said that Logan was “very reputable.” The next month, Fann announced that she had hired Cyber Ninjas to conduct the sham review, despite the company having had no experience conducting ballot reviews and Logan’s past statements in support of the “Stop the Steal” movement.
Other records uncovered by American Oversight include:
The PowerPoint presentation includes several graphs that show “vote injections” in states won by Biden, alleging election fraud in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Georgia. The graph depicting alleged fraud in Arizona previously appeared as “evidence” in a lawsuit filed by former Trump-allied attorney Sidney Powell that sought to overturn results in Arizona, one of multiple such lawsuits filed by Powell in other states that were rejected by the courts.
Earlier this year, Waldron appeared in a film created by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell to push baseless election fraud claims, and appeared at a conspiracy-filled “cyber symposium” Lindell hosted in August in South Dakota. Allied Security was also behind a debunked report on alleged fraud in Michigan’s Antrim County, and was floated as a potential contractor for an election investigation in York County, Pa., that was requested by state Sen. Doug Mastriano. Waldron also testified at post-election hearings in Pennsylvania with Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, and according to the Washington Post, Waldron was at a November 2020 White House meeting with Pennsylvania legislators, including Mastriano.
American Oversight will continue to investigate how Trump allies and pushers of voter-fraud lies have worked to overturn the will of voters in 2020 and to cast doubt on U.S. election integrity. We recently obtained new records that show Michael Gableman, the attorney hired to lead Wisconsin Republicans’ baseless election investigation, had also been in touch with Lindell about efforts to overturn the election after attending his August voter fraud “cyber symposium” in South Dakota.
Part of Investigation: