In this Monday, May 18, 2020 file photo, Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clark Lake, holds a copy of the Constitution while speaking during the “American Patriot Rally-Sheriffs speak out” event at Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids, Mich.
Cory Morse | The Grand Rapids Press | AP
The Michigan Senate’s Republican majority leader and other state lawmakers were greeted Friday by protestors’ signs saying “SHAME” and chants of “certify the vote” as he headed to meet with President Donald Trump.
Trump is expected to lean on them to overturn President-elect Joe Biden‘s victory in that state, according to an NBC News report.
Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and the others were confronted by about 20 protestors after they arrived at Reagan International Airport, just outside Washington, D.C., before their White House meeting.
Trump’s invitation to Michigan’s lawmakers in an apparent effort to have them invalidate the popular presidential vote is believed to be unprecedented.
“It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American President,” said U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah. Romney was the 2012 GOP nominee for president; his late father, George Romney, had been governor of Michigan.
A Michigan Republican leader close to both Shirkey and state House Speaker Lee Chatfield, who also was invited by Trump to the meeting, told NBC News that both men expect the president to pressure them to try to reverse Biden’s win in their state.
But the leader also said that while the men plan to tell Trump they will pursue his expected claims of irregularities and fraud in the votes in Detroit, they will uphold Michigan law and not reverse the state’s expected certification of the results showing a win for Biden.
“I’m sure the president is going to try to convince them to do this,” the leader told NBC News, referring to both overruling of the vote certification and having the legislature appoint its own electors to the Electoral College, as opposed to Biden’s electors.
But “I find it hard to believe” they will comply with that request, the leader said.
Under Michigan law, its legislature is barred from appointing its own electors who are different from the slate of electors of the presidential candidate who won the popular vote in the state.
“Legally, they don’t think they have any actual legal options. It legally cannot happen in Michigan. That’s what they’re going to tell the president,” the leader said.
Michigan has 16 votes in the Electoral College, and is one of several states that Trump narrowly won in 2016 during his race against Hillary Clinton. But the Republican incumbent lost the state to Biden this year. Nationally, Biden is projected to win 306 electoral votes, 36 more than he needs to secure the presidency.
Trump refused to concede the election to Biden and to allow federal officials to begin a process that would allow the Democrat to start a transition to the next administration.
Trump and his campaign’s legal team, which is being led by former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, have repeatedly claimed without evidence that the president was swindled out of a victory in the national election and in Michigan in particular by widespread fraud. They also have falsely claimed that Trump actually won the election.
On Thursday, the Trump campaign abruptly dropped a federal lawsuit which had sought to block the certification of votes in Wayne County, Michigan, which includes Detroit.
Giuliani and other lawyers for the campaign falsely claimed that the suit was dropped because the campaign had gotten what it wanted: a refusal by Wayne County elections officials to certify votes there.
In fact, the county elections board had voted to certify the results. But two GOP board members who originally opposed the certification, only to vote to confirm the results after an outcry that their objections were baseless, now say they want to rescind their confirmation votes.
Media outlets reported that the canvassers had been contacted by Trump directly on Tuesday evening.
One of them, Monica Palmer, told NBC News that she and Trump did not discuss her decision to rescind her vote “or anything like that.”
“My conversation with the President was about threats coming from the public and my safety — not about rescinding my vote,” Palmer told NBC.
Michigan’s secretary of state has said there is no legal way for the GOP members to rescind the votes they cast.
And in any event, state officials and lawyers say, even if the Wayne County board had failed to certify votes there, the ballots would have been certified by a state-level board.
The Michigan lawsuit by the campaign was dropped a day after two women in Michigan who had a similar federal lawsuit related to the Detroit ballots withdrew their own case. Their lawyers told CNBC that the women dropped their case because it covered much of the same issues as that of the Trump campaign’s suit, which they had expected, incorrectly it turned out, would continue in the court.
Within hours of the campaign’s Michigan case being dropped, the campaign lost a court case in Pennsylvania related to the tallying of ballots in a county there, saw the Republican Party in Arizona lose a challenge to the vote certification in Maricopa County, and saw an attorney in Georgia be denied by a federal judge on a request to block the state from certifying its vote count.
All four of those states were won by Biden, according to current projections.
A recount of Georgia’s results confirmed Biden’s win. The Trump campaign has requested a recount of results in two counties in Wisconsin, which had given Biden well more than his margin of victory in that state.