Trump invites top Michigan lawmakers to White House amid longshot bid to overturn election result

Trump campaign attempts to halt certification of election results

President Donald Trump gives thumbs up after stepping off Air Force One as he arrives at Detroit Metro Airport, behind him are Kurt Heise, left, Supervisor of Plymouth Township, Mich., and Speaker Lee Chatfield, of the Michigan House of Representatives, Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) (Alex Brandon, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump has invited two top Republican Michigan lawmakers to the White House this week.

Senate Republican Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield will reportedly attend a meeting a the White House on Friday.

On Thursday, the Michigan Democratic Party issued a statement regarding the lawmakers’ trip to Washington:

“If you want to know what your legislators’ priorities are, it is important to not just hear what they say, watch what they do. It is telling that Michigan GOP legislative leaders Mike Shirkey and Lee Chatfield are jetting off to Washington DC this week to meet with President Trump. They are more focused on continuing the GOP smoke and mirrors show designed to hide Trump’s humiliating defeat than taking care of the actual problems impacting Michiganders,” the statement reads. “It is both shameful and dangerous that they would travel during a global health pandemic that has killed over 8,000 Michiganders while refusing to work with our Governor in offering relief to our front-line workers, our small business owners, and everyone impacted by this deadly virus. Both Shirkey and Chatfield are once again sending a message to everyone in this state that they care more about Trump than the people they were elected to serve.”

The invitation comes just three days before the Board of State Canvassers is due to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s 153,000-vote lead over Trump in Michigan.

The invitation also comes after the Wayne County Board of Canvassers struggled to certify their election results this week. Two Republican members of the board -- Monica Palmer and William Hartmann -- refused to certify the election results on Tuesday. That deadlocked the board at 2-2. The state was ready to take over the certification process from there, but the Republican duo ended up reversing their decision that same evening.

Palmer and Hartmann said they had concerns with what they called “independent comprehensive audits” and with out-of-balance precincts. They said there were discrepancies they were deeply concerned about.

Then, on Wednesday, Palmer and Hartmann signed affidavits in an effort to rescind their “yes” votes. The Michigan Secretary of State’s office said in a statement Thursday, however, that there is no legal mechanism for the pair to rescind their votes casted for certification.

Read more: Michigan: GOP canvassers can’t legally rescind Wayne County election certification vote

Matt Morgan, the Trump campaign’s general counsel, said last week the campaign was trying to halt certification in battleground states until it could get a better handle on vote tallies and whether it would have the right to automatic recounts. Right now, Trump is requesting a recount in Wisconsin in two counties, and Georgia is doing an hand audit after Biden led by a slim margin of 0.3 percentage points, but there is no mandatory recount law in the state. The law provides that option to a trailing candidate if the margin is less than 0.5 percentage points.

Some in the Republican president’s orbit have held out hope that by delaying certification, GOP-controlled state legislatures will get a chance to select different electors, either overturning Biden’s victory or sending it to the House, where Trump would almost surely win.

But most advisers to the president consider that a fever dream. Trump’s team has been incapable of organizing even basic legal activities since the election, let alone the widescale political and legal apparatus needed to persuade state legislators to try to undermine the will of their states’ voters.

Read more: Trump targets Wayne County vote certification in late bid to block Biden

About the Authors:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.