Trump did not call for election interference, Michigan lawmaker says

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In this Jan.30, 2020 file photo, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, right, and House Speaker Lee Chatfield speak to the media at the Michigan Capitol in Lansing, Michigan. Associated Press

LANSING, Michigan – President Donald Trump did not call on Republican lawmakers in Michigan to “break the law” or “interfere” with the election during a White House meeting, a legislative leader said Sunday, a day before canvassers plan to meet to determine whether to certify Joe Biden‘s 154,000-vote victory in the state of the battlefield.

House Speaker Lee Chatfield was among seven GOP lawmakers who met Trump for about an hour on Friday, amid his protracted efforts to block Biden’s victory.

“There was this outrage that the president was going to ask us to break the law, he was going to ask us to intervene, and that just didn’t happen,” he told Fox News of the very unusual meeting. He did not elaborate on what was discussed except to say that the delegation had requested additional federal assistance to help Michigan’s coronavirus response.

The Michigan election agency recommended that the Nov. 3 results – including Biden’s 2.8 percentage point victory – be certified by the Board of State Canvassers, which has two Democrats and two Republicans. The Republican National Committee and the state’s Republican Party want the council to adjourn for 14 days to investigate alleged irregularities in Wayne County, the state’s largest and home to Detroit.

National election office staff said the alleged irregularities, even if verified, would not significantly affect the outcome. The Michigan Democratic Party has said the total number of votes in Detroit implied by imbalanced constituencies – where the number of ballots does not equal the number of names on the poll book – is at most 450, or “0.029% of the margin” between Biden and Trump.

“The certification process should not be manipulated to serve as a sort of retroactive referendum on the expressed will of voters. This is just not the way democracy works, ”President Lavora Barnes wrote to the board on Sunday.

If the board does not confirm the results and the Michigan Supreme Court does not subsequently order it to do so, Chatfield said, “We are now in a constitutional crisis.” However, he and other Republicans have indicated that they will not undermine the will of voters.

“Michigan Election Law clearly requires that voters in the state be those nominated by the party that received the most votes – not by the Legislature,” read an email that House Republicans send in response to people who contact their offices.

Michigan Election Law experts said the state council’s authority was limited in scope and it must certify the results now that all 83 counties have reported theirs to the state. There are concerns, however, as Trump personally called the two Republicans to the Wayne County Board of Directors last week and they said a day later that they were reversing their previous vote – following a deadlock. earlier – but it was too late.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, a Republican who has met Trump, suggested in a Sunday tweet that state canvassers could “take all the time permitted by law to perform their duties.” instead of voting on Monday and said it was inappropriate for anyone to pressure them. “

The deadline is December 13, but it’s five days after the federal “safe harbor” date – when Congress cannot challenge voters appointed on that date under state law.

There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 elections. In fact, election officials from both political parties have publicly stated that the election went well and international observers have confirmed that there is had no serious irregularities.

The problems reported by the Trump campaign and his allies are typical of every election.

Republican US Rep. Fred Upton, Michigan’s longest-serving congressman, told CNN on Sunday that “voters are speaking” and the state does not have a rock-solid presidential race.

“No one has found evidence of fraud or abuse,” he said. He called the request to delay certification “out of bounds”.

The trip to the White House has come under scrutiny. Lawmakers stayed at the luxurious Trump International Hotel and two of them were pictured with expensive drinks at the hotel bar after the meeting.

Spokesmen for Shirkey and Chatfield said lawmakers covered their expenses and no taxpayer money was used. However, they did not say whether the men paid for the trip themselves or if it had been paid for in some other way, for example by operating their non-profit “administrative” accounts that can accept contributions from. companies or other donors.

According to a 2016 joint survey by MLive and the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, it can be extremely difficult to know who runs these lawmaker-related organizations, who gives them donations, and what the money is spent on. These accounts can be used to reimburse lawmakers for travel.