After Trump meeting, Michigan lawmakers deliver rebuff

WASHINGTON • Michigan’s Republican state legislative leaders said after meeting President Donald Trump that they had no information that would change the outcome of the presidential election in the state, and would follow the “normal” electoral process.

Michigan is one of several states where the campaign of the Republican President is seeking to challenge Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the Nov 3 election, based on unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.

In a joint statement on Friday, Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House of Representatives Speaker Lee Chatfield said: “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.”

Mr Shirkey and Mr Chatfield said any allegation of election fraud should be thoroughly investigated.

They added: “Michigan’s certification process should be a deliberate process free from threats and intimidation.”

Having been stung by a series of court defeats, the Trump team is resting its hopes on getting Republican-controlled legislatures in battleground states to set aside the results and declare Mr Trump the winner, according to three people familiar with the plan.

Before Friday’s meeting, White House spokesman Kayleigh McEnany said: “This is not an advocacy meeting. There will be no one from the campaign there. He routinely meets with lawmakers from all across the country.”

The two lawmakers said they also pressed for more funds for Michigan to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

“We used our time in the White House to deliver a letter to President Trump making clear our support for additional federal funds to help Michigan in the fight against Covid-19,” they said.

In Michigan’s Detroit city, Mr Trump and his campaign were accused in a lawsuit of threatening to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of predominantly black voters in the city by pressuring local officials to refuse to certify Mr Biden as the election winner in Wayne County.

“Central to this strategy is disenfranchising voters in predominately black cities, including Detroit, by blocking certification of election results from those cities or counties where they are located,” said the complaint by the Michigan Welfare Rights Organisation filed late Friday in Washington federal court.

“Defendants’ tactics repeat the worst abuses in our nation’s history, as black Americans were denied a voice in American democracy for most of the first two centuries of the Republic.”

Ms Jenna Ellis, senior legal adviser to the Trump campaign, said the campaign’s goal is “to ensure safe, secure and fair elections”.

“Every American deserves to know that our elections are conducted in a legal manner, no matter who they are or where they live,” she said in a statement.

The non-profit organisation cited Mr Trump’s meeting on Friday with Mr Shirkey and Mr Chatfield and his calls earlier last week to two GOP county canvassing officials in Wayne County.

“Exerting pressure on state and local officials not to count or certify voters is prohibited” by federal election law, said the complaint.

The President’s bid to overturn the election result was dealt another blow on Friday after it was announced that he had lost Georgia.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced that a manual recount and audit of all ballots cast in the southern state had determined that Mr Biden was the winner.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG