Fox News contributor dismisses report of Trump floating martial law when meeting with conspiracy theorists in the Oval Office

Mollie Hemingway: “it's fake news”

Video file

Citation From the December 20, 2020, edition of MediaBuzz

HOWARD KURTZ (HOST): The New York Times, as I am sure you know, reported that President Trump met on Friday with Mike Flynn, his now pardoned former national security adviser, with Sidney Powell, who had been a member of his campaign legal team, and that among the issues discussed was Flynn's idea, which he's talked about publicly, of having the president declare martial law and having the military supervise a rerun of the race in key states won by Joe Biden, and the press just going nuclear over this. Your thoughts? 

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY (FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR): Right, and President Trump tweeted last night I believe that that was fake news. So you have it from the horse's mouth that that was not -- that he has no intention of declaring martial law or of anything else crazy that the media are putting out there, using anonymous sources.

This is one of the things where the media have spent the last four years running false and defamatory stories using anonymous sources. They are not held accountable when those stories do not turn out to be true.

But again, there are legitimate stories here that could be covered by credible media that wasn't so partisan in how they handle things. There are very legitimate concerns about this very sloppy election. We all know that mail-in balloting was widely expanded. We all know and have known for a very long time that that leads to greater opportunities for fraud. We know that the standards for checking ballots were in decline. And so to tell people tens of millions of Americans who have legitimate problems and concerns about that sloppiness, that they're not going to cover this and they're only of going to cover it in the most outlandish way is not doing a service to the country. There really will be moving forwards attempts to deal with this electoral situation so people can have confidence and our media have not been covering that story very well.

KURTZ: That same Times story said that most White House advisers lead by [chief of staff] Mark Meadows were opposed to the idea of martial law or seizing voting machines.


LIZ CLAMAN (FOX BUSINESS HOST): So let's just say somebody close to the president is floating something, saying I was there, I that was the room. Yeah, you've got to have that double source, sometimes triple source.

But you now have The Wall Street Journal jumping on this, this is not just The New York Times or The Washington Post. The Wall Street Journal, which has been very fair to the president and some critics might say a little too open-minded when it comes to President Trump's claims, is also reporting this story and the president does have a record of saying "oh, I was just kidding" when I said that when it really is quite apparent that when he said it on video in many cases he wasn't kidding. So that's a convenient sort of behavior here.

But I think that the press would very likely try and say that it's a fancy way of claiming that his quixotic effort to hold on is out there but the two dollar version of that is that he is going to continue to look at different avenues until the last clear chance where Marine One is waiting to take him away from the White House.

As Maggie Haberman and Zolan Kanno-Youngs reported on December 19:

President Trump on Friday discussed naming Sidney Powell, who as a lawyer for his campaign team unleashed conspiracy theories about a Venezuelan plot to rig voting machines in the United States, to be a special counsel overseeing an investigation of voter fraud, according to two people briefed on the discussion.


Most of his advisers opposed the idea, two of the people briefed on the discussion said, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer. In recent days Mr. Giuliani has sought to have the Department of Homeland Security join the campaign’s efforts to overturn Mr. Trump’s loss in the election.


Ms. Powell’s client, retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser whom the president recently pardoned, was also there, two of the people briefed on the meeting said. Some senior administration officials drifted in and out of the meeting.

During an appearance on the conservative Newsmax channel this week, Mr. Flynn pushed for Mr. Trump to impose martial law and deploy the military to “rerun” the election. At one point in the meeting on Friday, Mr. Trump asked about that idea.

Ms. Powell’s ideas were shot down by every other Trump adviser present, all of whom repeatedly pointed out that she had yet to back up her claims with proof. At one point, one person briefed on the meeting said, she produced several affidavits, but upon inspection they were all signed by a man she has previously used as an expert witness, whose credentials have been called into question.

Flynn and Powell have been appearing recently on Lou Dobbs' Fox Business program and on other pro-Trump outlets. Both have been floating martial law as a means to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Right-wing media personalities have been rallying around the duo as well.