General Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser to Donald Trump, has hinted the United States President could use the military to force an election "rerun" - saying "it's not unprecedented".
Speaking on the conservative Newsmax TV network, Flynn outlined the next steps available to Trump now that the Electoral College has officially confirmed President-elect Joe Biden the winner of the US election.
"There is no way in the world we are going to be able to move forward as a nation. [Trump] could immediately, on his order, seize every single one of these [voting] machines," Flynn said in apparent reference to the conspiracy theory that voting software flipped Trump votes for Biden.
"Within the swing states, if he wanted to, he could take military capabilities, and he could place those in states and basically rerun an election in each of those states.
"I mean, it's not unprecedented. These people are out there talking about martial law like it's something that we've never done. Martial law has been instituted 64 times.
Flynn quickly added: "We have a constitutional process. We clearly have a constitutional process. That has to be followed."
Since his pardon, Flynn has appeared at a series of rallies in support of Trump's baseless claims of election fraud.
On the steps of the Supreme Court last week, Flynn urged demonstrators to continue fighting to have the election results overturned.
"In this crucible moment of our time, we have to pray that truth triumphs over lies, justice triumphs over abuse and fraud, honesty triumphs over corruption," Flynn said. "Our sacred honour triumphs over infamy."
Bill Banks, a professor at Syracuse University who specialises in constitutional and national security law, said the idea was "preposterous".
"Apart from the fact that state and now federal investigators have found no evidence of election fraud that would change the election outcome, martial law has no place in the United States absent a complete breakdown of civil governing mechanisms," Banks told Military Times.
Earlier this week Flynn ridiculed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for congratulating Biden on his win following the Electoral College vote by retweeting a post that called for "American patriots" to let "McConnell know we aren't on board with his 'President Elect Biden' mindset."
Flynn told Trump: "Millions & millions & millions of Patriots stand behind, alongside & in front of you during this crucible moment in US History where our very Republic is on the line. We won't fail or cower like some in the Republican Party have shown."
Despite Flynn's own guilty plea in 2017 to lying to the FBI about his Russia contacts, Trump pardoned him last month.
The President has long suggested Flynn was a victim of the FBI's Russia investigation, a probe that Trump believes was motivated by political bias.
The US Congress is due to meet on January 6 to take the final step in reaffirming Biden's presidential win by agreeing to the Electoral College's vote count. Any objection is doomed to fail since both chambers of Congress would need to sustain the objection by a majority vote, and Democrats control the House of Representatives.
McConnell, the Republican Senate Leader, privately asked his colleagues not to make an objection, saying they would have to vote it down and it would be "terrible", according to the people familiar with the meeting.
Senator John Cornyn of Texas said any such effort by his own party would be a mistake.
"I think there comes a time when you have to realise that, despite your best efforts, you've been unsuccessful," Cornyn told reporters, saying he hopes anyone entertaining the idea of an objection would understand that it "would be futile and it's unnecessary".
- additional reporting AP