Michigan leaders head to White House as Trump attempts to subvert election


Two Michigan state legislators headed to the White House on Friday as U.S. President Donald Trump made an extraordinary and sure-to-be futile attempt to block Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state and subvert the results of the 2020 presidential election.

The state has yet to certify its results for Biden, who won Michigan by more than 154,000 votes, according to unofficial results. Trump and his allies have been trying to convince judges and lawmakers in the state to set aside the popular vote and swap in Republican-chosen electors.

The president personally called two county canvass board officials earlier this week who had refused to certify the results in Wayne County, the state’s most populous county and one that overwhelmingly favoured Biden. The two Republican officials eventually agreed to certify the results, but following Trump’s call, they later said they had second thoughts.

As he departed Detroit for Washington on Friday morning, state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey was swarmed by activists bearing signs that read: “Respect the Vote” and “Protect Democracy.” House Speaker Lee Chatfield was also headed to D.C., and protesters were expected in Washington, too.

Some Michigan legislators have reported being deluged with calls and emails from Trump supporters demanding that they intervene. The House Republican caucus has prepared a 732-word stock response that pushes back, stating that state law clearly requires that electors be nominated by the party that wins the most votes.

“The law does not allow for the nomination or approval of alternative electors,” the email states.

Donald Trump’s own election security agency has declared the 2020 presidential election to have been the most secure in history. Days after that statement was issued, Trump fired the agency’s leader. (Evan Vucci/The Associated Press)

Trump’s efforts eroding faith in elections, experts worry

The Michigan effort is among multiple last-ditch tactics Trump and his allies are using to challenge his defeat. His team also has suggested in a legal challenge that Pennsylvania set aside the popular vote there and pressured county officials in Arizona to delay certifying vote tallies.

Election law experts see it all as the last, dying gasps of the Trump campaign and say Biden is certain to walk into the Oval Office come January. But there is great concern that Trump’s effort is doing real damage to public faith in the integrity of U.S. elections.

Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, one of Trump’s most vocal Republican critics, accused Trump of resorting to “overt pressure on state and local officials to subvert the will of the people and overturn the election.”

Romney added: “It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American president.”

Trump’s own election security agency has declared the 2020 presidential election to have been the most secure in history. Days after that statement was issued, Trump fired the agency’s leader.

The increasingly desperate and erratic moves have no reasonable chance of changing the outcome of the 2020 election, in which Biden has now received more votes than any other presidential candidate in history and has clinched the 270 electoral college votes needed to win.

What is behind Trump’s claims?

But the Republican president’s constant barrage of baseless claims, his work to personally sway local officials who certify votes and his allies’ refusal to admit he lost is likely to have a lasting negative impact on the country. Legions of his supporters don’t believe he lost.

“It’s about trying to set up the conditions where half of the country believes that there are only two possibilities, either they win or the election was stolen,” said Justin Levitt, a constitutional law scholar and professor at Loyola Law School. “And that’s not a democracy.”

The two Republican canvassers in Michigan’s Wayne County said in a statement late Wednesday they lacked confidence that the election was fair and impartial.

“There has been a distinct lack of transparency throughout the process,” they said. But election officials have said there has been no evidence of impropriety or fraud in Michigan.

Trump’s allies have homed in on the way the president’s early lead in Michigan and some other states on election night slipped away as later votes came, casting it as evidence of something nefarious.

But a massive influx of mail-in ballots because of the coronavirus pandemic leaned largely to Biden, who encouraged his supporters to vote by mail, and those votes were the last to be counted. So it appeared Trump had an edge when he really didn’t.

During a news conference in Wilmington, Del., on Thursday, Biden said Americans are ‘witnessing incredible irresponsibility, incredibly damaging messages are being sent to the rest of the world about how democracy functions.’ (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

‘Incredibly damaging messages’: Biden

Michigan’s four-member state canvassing board, made up of two Democrats and two Republicans, is expected to meet Monday to determine the results of the election after receiving totals from all 83 counties. If it does not certify Biden’s victory, it is likely a court would order the members to do so.

The Michigan legislature would be called on to select electors if Trump succeeded in convincing the board not to certify the results.

During a news conference in Wilmington, Del., on Thursday, Biden said Americans are “witnessing incredible irresponsibility, incredibly damaging messages are being sent to the rest of the world about how democracy functions.”

He added, “I just think it’s totally irresponsible.”

Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and others held a news conference Thursday to allege a widespread Democratic election conspiracy involving multiple states and suspect voting machines. But election officials across the country have said repeatedly there was no widespread fraud.

Read more at CBC.ca