Trump challenges Biden win

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (November 20, 2020) — President Donald Trump sought to on Friday to block Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s victory in his pleas to Michigan lawmakers to overturn the questionable vote count.

Trump summoned a delegation of the battleground state’s Republican leadership, including the Senate majority leader and House speaker, in an apparent extension of his efforts to persuade judges and election officials to set aside Biden’s 154,000-vote margin of victory and grant Trump the state’s electors due to fraudulent voting practices.

Trump’s efforts extended to other states that Biden carried as well.

Rick Hasen, an election law expert and professor who has been chronicling the 2020 race, wrote that there would be “rioting” in the streets if an effort was made to set aside the vote in Michigan.

In a joint statement after the White House meeting, Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield said allegations of fraud should be investigated. “We have not yet been made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan and as legislative leaders, we will follow the law and follow the normal process regarding Michigan’s electors, just as we have said throughout this election,” they said.

“The candidates who win the most votes win elections and Michigan’s electoral votes,” they added, saying they used the meeting with Trump to press him for more pandemic aid money for their state.

The president on Friday claimed victory, declaring as an aside during a White House announcement on drug pricing, “I won, by the way, but you know, we’ll find that out.”

Trump’s roughly hourlong meeting with the Michigan legislators came days after he personally called two local canvassing board officials who had refused to certify the results in Wayne County, Michigan’s most populous county and one that overwhelmingly favored Biden. The two GOP officials eventually agreed to certify the results. But following Trump’s call, they said they had second thoughts.

The Board of State Canvassers is to meet Monday to certify the statewide outcome and it was unclear whether Republican members of that panel would similarly balk.

Some Trump allies have expressed hope that state lawmakers could intervene in selecting Republican electors, as the president and his attorneys have pushed baseless allegations of fraud that have been rejected in some courtrooms across the country. It was with that in mind that Trump invited the Michigan legislators. He was also said to be considering extending a similar invitation to lawmakers from Pennsylvania.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters that the meeting with Michigan officials was “not an advocacy meeting” and insisted Trump “routinely meets with lawmakers from across the country.” 

As he departed Detroit for Washington on Friday morning, Shirkey was swarmed by activists bearing signs that read “Respect the Vote” and “Protect Democracy.”

Chatfield tweeted before the meeting with Trump: “No matter the party, when you have an opportunity to meet with the President of the United States, of course you take it. I won’t apologize for that.”

The Michigan Legislature would be called on to select electors if Trump succeeded in persuading the board not to certify the results.

Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer could seek a court order forcing board members to certify the election and could remove those who refused, said Steve Liedel, another election attorney.

Trump’s challenge in Michigan was among a series efforts in battleground states that his team is using to challenge his defeat. They also have suggested in a legal challenge that Pennsylvania set aside the popular vote there and pressured county officials in Arizona to delay certifying vote tallies. There have been multiple lawsuits in battleground states that have failed so far to reverse any votes.

In two Democratic-leaning counties in Wisconsin that are recounting votes, Trump’s campaign sought to discard tens of thousands of absentee ballots that it alleged should not have been counted.

The objections were twice denied by the three-member Dane County Board of Canvassers on bipartisan votes. Trump was expected to make the same objections in Milwaukee County ahead of a court challenge once the recount concludes.

Some Republicans have supported Trump. In Georgia, where a hand audit found Biden had still won, Gov. Brian Kemp said a court order made it so he had to certify the results. But he suggested Trump demand a recount and wanted answers to the alleged “irregularities.”

In Minnesota, a state Biden won handily, some GOP officials are now raising concerns over “data abnormalities.”

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