President Trump has opened new lines of contact with the Republican state and local Michigan authorities as he seeks to overturn the state’s results and overturn the national election.
With inauguration day exactly two months away, Trump plans to meet today at the White House with Republican leaders from the Michigan legislature. And he called at least one local Republican election official this week as the party disputes the results in Detroit.
Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield, both Republicans, are expected to visit Trump this afternoon, according to a person familiar with the situation. It‘s unclear what exactly they plan to discuss.
Observers said Trump appeared to aim to bring in the Republican legislatures and nominate pro-Trump voters in states Joe Biden won, sending the electoral college back to the president at his Dec. 14 meeting. but certain to fail, and was subject to defeat after defeat in court.
Both Shirkey and Chatfield have said the candidate with the most votes after certification of results will receive Michigan’s 16 electoral votes. And Shirkey said this week that Trump’s team “is not going” to succeed in persuading state lawmakers to overturn the election result.
The Trump campaign yesterday fell the latest of his federal lawsuits challenging the Michigan election results, even as he signaled he would seek to revive a Republican effort to invalidate the ballots from Detroit.
The two Republican members of the Wayne County Solicitors Council, Monica Palmer and William Hartmann, initially voted against certification of the results on Tuesday, citing small differences in the vote count in some ridings. Palmer suggested at one point that votes in the suburbs could be certified while the votes in Detroit, which is predominantly black, would be declared invalid.
They dropped their opposition after a torrent of backlash from Democratic officials and citizens alike, and the Solicitors Council approved the Wayne County results later today. But on Wednesday night, after Trump called Palmer, it emerged that she and Hartmann had signed affidavits saying they were intimidated into approving the results and wanted to overturn their votes.
Democratic state officials said the ship had sailed. “There is no legal mechanism for them to void their vote,” said Tracy Wimmer, spokesperson for the secretary of state’s office. “Their job is done and the next step in the process is for the Council of State Solicitors to meet and certify.”
But yesterday, as it withdrew a lawsuit in Michigan, the Trump campaign pointed to the Palmer and Hartmann affidavits. The deadline in Michigan to certify the results is Monday.
Trump also asked aides what Republican officials he might call in other swing states as he tries to keep results from being certified on the battlefields where Biden has won, advisers said.
The Trump campaign has suffered others legal setbacks yesterday, because judges rejected his arguments in Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania.
In Arizona, Judge John Hannah refused to order a new audit of Maricopa County ballots, citing a partial audit that found no irregularities. He also called on the state to ask the GOP to pay the state’s legal fees, highlighting a state law that allows defendants to pass their costs on to plaintiffs when a lawsuit is found to be unfounded.
A Trump-appointed federal judge in Georgia dismissed a lawsuit brought by a Republican supporter of the president, saying he had no reason to prosecute and calling the relief he was seeking “quite striking.” The complainant wanted to block the certification of election results because of his perception of fraud. (In other Georgia news reports, the Secretary of State announced last night that the state report did not significantly alter Biden’s margin of victory.)
And in Pennsylvania, a county judge rejected the Trump campaign’s efforts to invalidate more than 2,000 technically missing ballots.
Rudy Giuliani, the president’s attorney, said yesterday that the campaign would announce more lawsuits in Georgia, and possibly more in Arizona and New Mexico. He said he had evidence of a “centralized” conspiracy of widespread fraud, but provided none.
In 2018, Scott Pruitt, the ally of the fossil fuel industry who Trump hired to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, has resigned amid a cloud of ethical investigations – including allegations of overspending and first-class travel for the general public.
Now, as Trump’s term draws to a close, Pruitt’s replacement Andrew Wheeler is also under scrutiny. Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who had previously been Pruitt’s deputy, plans to make two expensive trips abroad in the weeks before his job ends – one to Taiwan and another to four Latin American countries .
The taxpayer-funded trip to Taiwan alone could cost around $ 300,000. The trip is part of an initiative “to collaborate on issues such as the Save our Seas initiative and marine litter, air quality and children’s health,” said a spokesperson for Wheeler.