DETROIT – The envoy of Michigan Republican lawmakers who traveled to the White House Friday for a controversial meeting with President Donald Trump returned home Saturday.
Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey refused to answer questions despite releasing a statement the day before. The Majority Leader was without Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield as he walked through Detroit Metro Airport. The Speaker and several other GOP legislators were on the trip.
Shirkey didn’t offer any details about their conversation with the President. He did not answer whether there was a request from the President to intervene in the state’s closely watched election process, as many suspected was the true reason for the visit. He did sing a hymn as reporters asked questions.
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On Friday night, both Shirkey and Chatfield released a joint statement saying they spoke with Trump about more COVID funding, the pair said they will follow state law when it comes to Michigan’s election and were unaware of any information that would change the results of the vote. Michigan elected former Vice President Joe Biden, flipping the statewide results from 2016 by more than 155,000 votes
Shirkey, however, declined to answer questions about federal aid to help Michigan fight the alarming wave of COVID-19 cases spreading across the state. Michigan’s case count set a record, 9,779 cases in a single day on Friday the same day the White House meeting occurred.
Shirkey only answered a single question before driving away. When asked whether he had anything to say to the voters of Michigan he said, “I love Michigan!”
Online Saturday, new details of the trip surfaced on social media. Trump tweeted Saturday morning the joint statement was true but vowed to show “massive and unprecedented fraud!” seeming to suggest the trio did talk about Michigan’s elections and the President’s repeated efforts to overturn the results in the key swing state. So far, his campaign and party’s claims of widespread fraud have failed in courtrooms across the country. There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Michigan.
There were also photos of Chatfield and several other Michigan Republicans drinking inside Trump Hotel while seated at a table. Social media quickly labeled the alcohol Dom Perignon, an expensive champagne that sells for $310-$495, according to the hotel’s online menu. It is unclear based on the photos alone, however, if the alcohol was Dom Perignon. The four men were pictured without masks, which is allowed under Washington DC’s coronavirus orders.
It’s also unclear whether the GOP leaders paid for the trip themselves, if it was paid for by Michigan taxpayers or if it was paid for by the trump campaign, which has continued to ask Michigan supporters for money for its legal fund in the weeks since the election. Much of the money however will be going to the campaign’s debt funds, according to the explanation on emails sent to potential donors.
Shirkey’s trip home coincides with a letter from the Michigan and National Republican Party Chairs to the State Board of Canvassers asking them not to certify the election for two weeks and requested an audit be done. Shirkey didn’t have any details on that either as to whether it was part of the president’s plans or if it was discussed.
The State Board of Canvassers meets Monday to vote on certifying the state election. One of the two Republican members on the evenly split four member, bipartisan board has already said on the record he was leaning toward delaying the certification, citing concerns about unfounded claims of voter fraud including the debunked theory there were widespread problems with specific voting software. In reality, the software only affected a single county, and the error was caught and corrected before the statewide count was through.
A similar federal lawsuit attempting to halt certification was filed by the Trump campaign in Michigan’s Western District court after the election but was dropped on Thursday. The campaign falsely claimed Michigan’s largest county had failed to certify the results of its election as its reason. The results were certified after a tense set of votes midweek in which the two Republican members of the four-person, bipartisan board voted against certification, changed their votes solidifying the results and then filed affidavits attempting to rescind those votes. They also requested an audit be done. According to state officials, there is no legal way for their votes to be changed once they certify an election.
According to Michigan state law, an audit of an election cannot happen until after an election is certified and the findings of an audit cannot undo the results of a certified election. A two-week wait on certification would put a vote by the state board of canvassers on Dec. 7, one day before states are supposed to have their elections certified on Dec. 8, known as “Safe Harbor Day.” The Electoral College meets Dec. 14 to cast their votes for the winner of their state. If states do not have their elections certified by Dec. 8, the newly elected Congress has the power to determine the winner of that state. A situation like that has not happened since the election of 1876.
The results of either outcome are then sent to Congress which counts the electoral votes Jan. 6. Inauguration day is Jan. 20.
READ MORE: Republican leaders ask Michigan Board of State Canvassers to delay certification of election results
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and Michigan Republican Party Chairman Laura Cox penned a joint letter dated today to the Michigan Board of State Canvassers asking to delay the certification of election results for two weeks.
The period would allow for a full audit and investigation into potential voter fraud. Since the presidential election Republican leaders have made allegations of voter fraud without substantial evidence.