Wednesday February 24th, 2021 12:21PM

Trump summons Michigan GOP leaders for extraordinary meeting

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

DETROIT (AP) — President Donald Trump summoned Michigan's Republican legislative leaders to the White House for an extraordinary meeting Friday amid a long shot GOP push to subvert the democratic process that handed the battleground state to Democrat Joe Biden.

Two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press that Trump invited Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield. They agreed to go, according to a state official aware of the leaders’ plans. The two officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were discussing private conversations.

It was not immediately clear what the meeting would be about. Neither Shirkey nor Chatfield commented.

Trump’s campaign is openly floating the notion of trying to get friendly state legislatures to appoint electors who would overturn the will of the voters. The Michigan Legislature would be called to select electors if Trump succeeds in convincing the state’s board of canvassers not to certify Biden’s victory in the state.

Both Shirkey and Chatfield have indicated they will not try to overturn Biden’s win.

“Michigan law does not include a provision for the Legislature to directly select electors or to award electors to anyone other than the person who received the most votes,” Shirkey’s spokeswoman said last week.

Asked at a Lansing news conference about the plan for legislative leaders to visit Trump, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said, “I hope they wear masks, and I hope they stay safe.”

“All the meetings in the world, though, can’t take away from the fact that Joe Biden won Michigan by over 150,000 votes,” Whitmer added. “That’s 14 times the margin that Donald Trump won by in 2016. ... So we will be sending a slate of electors that reflects the will of the people of Michigan at the end of this process."

Also Thursday, state officials said Michigan's largest county cannot revoke its certification of election results after two Republicans who approved Biden's local landslide wanted to revert to their initial stance of refusing to bless the vote tally.

The GOP effort to change position represented another complication in what is typically a routine task. Monica Palmer and William Hartmann, the two Republican canvassers in Wayne County, said they only voted to certify the results after “hours of sustained pressure" and after getting promises that their concerns about the election would be investigated.

“We deserve better — but more importantly, the American people deserve better — than to be forced to accept an outcome achieved through intimidation, deception and threats of violence,” they said in a statement Wednesday night. “Wayne County voters need to have full confidence in this process."

State officials said the certification of the Detroit-area vote will stand. Michigan's chief election officer said a post-election audit will be performed, though not to check “mythical allegations” of fraud.

“There is no legal mechanism for them to rescind their vote. Their job is done, and the next step in the process is for the Board of State Canvassers to meet and certify,” said Tracy Wimmer, a spokeswoman for the Michigan secretary of state.

The four-member state board, which is expected to meet Monday, is split with two Democrats and two Republicans — the same makeup as the Wayne County board.

Trump's campaign says the latest about-face by Palmer and Hartmann is legitimate. It withdrew a federal lawsuit challenging the Detroit-area results, attaching affidavits from the pair.

Palmer and Hartmann initially voted against certification Tuesday, leaving the county Board of Canvassers deadlocked at 2-2 along party lines. Palmer complained that certain Detroit precincts were out of balance, meaning that absentee ballot books did not match the number of ballots cast.

“This is not an indication that any votes were improperly cast or counted,” Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said.

The GOP move drew an immediate rebuke from the public and injected partisan politics into the business of an unsung panel that is supposed to confirm the will of the voters. A person familiar with the matter told the AP that Trump reached out to Palmer and Hartmann on Tuesday evening after the revised vote to express gratitude for their support.

In a statement, the pair reported being the target of threats, which they said they reported to law enforcement.

Trump “was checking to make sure I was safe after seeing/hearing about the threats and doxxing,” Palmer said in a text message to the Detroit Free Press, referring to the practice of publicly disclosing someone's personal information.

Biden crushed Trump in Wayne County by a more than 2-1 margin on his way to winning Michigan by 153,000 votes, according to unofficial results. His victory reversed Trump’s 2016 gains in the industrial Midwest and put the Democrat on the path to achieving the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House.

The county canvassers later voted again and certified the results, 4-0. Then, on Wednesday, Palmer and Hartmann signed affidavits saying they believe the vote should not be certified.

Jonathan Kinloch, a Democratic canvasser, said he heard passion — not threats — during the stormy Tuesday night meeting when the audience on Zoom was allowed to speak after the 2-2 tie and before the unanimous vote.

“I heard people basically being very assertive in demonstrating their outrage, but it happens all the time,” Kinloch said. “This was a very important meeting to the city, the county, and it impacted a lot of folks.”

Benson, a Democrat, said a post-election audit will be conducted in Wayne County and any other community with “significant clerical errors.”

“Audits are neither designed to address nor performed in response to false or mythical allegations of ‘irregularities’ that have no basis in fact,” she said.

There has been no evidence of widespread voting fraud in Michigan or any other state. Federal and state officials from both parties have declared the 2020 election safe and secure. But Trump and his allies have spent two weeks raising false claims of fraud and refusing to concede to Biden.


Eggert reported from Lansing, and Miller reported from Washington. Associated Press Writer John Flesher in Traverse City, Michigan, also contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General Election News
© Copyright 2021
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Mexico says it wants its ex-officials tried in Mexico
Mexican officials say they they want ex-officials accused of corruption tried in their home country, but said the country is still willing to extradite drug traffickers
4:40PM ( 3 minutes ago )
Transition or tropics? EPA chief looks at final trips abroad
The head of the Environmental Protection Agency is looking at taxpayer-funded trips abroad, including the tropics, in the Trump administration’s last weeks
4:32PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Trump summons Michigan GOP leaders for extraordinary meeting
President Donald Trump has summoned Michigan’s Republican legislative leaders to the White House for an extraordinary meeting Friday
4:31PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Trump, allies make frantic steps to overturn Biden victory
President Donald Trump and his allies are taking increasingly frantic steps to subvert the results of the 2020 election, including summoning state legislators to the White House as part of a longshot bid to overturn Joe Biden’s victory
4:01PM ( 41 minutes ago )
Anomalies found in data put census deadline in jeopardy
The director of the Census Bureau says irregularities have been found during the numbers-crunching phase of the 2020 census
3:41PM ( 1 hour ago )
US adult smoking rate looks unchanged, vaping rate higher
The U.S. decline in cigarette smoking could be stalling while the adult vaping rate appears to be rising
3:19PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
President Trump invites Michigan GOP leaders to White House
President Donald Trump has summoned Michigan’s Republican legislative leaders to the White House for a meeting Friday
2:19PM ( 2 hours ago )
Anomalies found in data puts census deadline in jeopardy
The director of the Census Bureau says irregularities have been found during the numbers-crunching phase of the 2020 census
2:00PM ( 2 hours ago )
CDC warns Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving
The nation’s top public health agency is advising Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving, or to spend the holiday with people with whom they are not currently living
1:57PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online National News
GM: New batteries cut electric car costs, increase range
General Motors says a pending breakthrough in battery chemistry will cut the price of its electric vehicles so they equal those powered by gasoline within five years
1:00PM ( 3 hours ago )
The Latest: Africa surpasses 2 million coronavirus cases
Africa has surpassed 2 million confirmed coronavirus cases
12:04PM ( 4 hours ago )
State: Too late for Detroit-area county to yank election OK
Officials say Michigan’s largest county can’t yank certification of election results, even if Republican canvassers now are having second thoughts again
11:42AM ( 5 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Polish police criticized for using tear gas on protesters
Polish police have came under criticism for using tear gas and force on mostly female and young protesters
4:05PM ( 39 minutes ago )
The Latest: Pelosi, Schumer going to Delaware to see Biden
President-elect Joe Biden is set to meet in Delaware with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer
4:03PM ( 41 minutes ago )
US general says IS in Iraq and Syria still long-term threat
The U.S. general overseeing American military operations across the Middle East says the Islamic State extremist group will never be truly defeated until the world solves the problem of refugees and others displaced by years of war in Iraq and Syria
3:10PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
German parliament probes intruder incident during virus vote
German parliamentary officials are investigating how people protesting against government lockdown measures were able to enter the Bundestag building and harangue lawmakers ahead of a crucial vote
3:12AM ( 13 hours ago )
The Latest: S Korea begins stronger limits in some areas
South Korea has reported more than 300 new coronavirus cases for a second consecutive day as authorities begin enforcing toughened social distancing rules in some areas to fight a resurgence of small-scale clusters of infections
8:58PM ( 19 hours ago )
The Latest: Samoa reports its 1st positive coronavirus test
The small Pacific nation of Samoa is reporting its first positive test for the coronavirus, although officials say a second test on the same patient came back negative
7:00PM ( 21 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Death toll now 16 in Uganda's unrest after Bobi Wine arrest
Police say the death toll from protests over the latest arrest of Ugandan opposition presidential hopeful and musician Bobi Wine has risen to 16 amid a second day of demonstrations
10:48AM ( 5 hours ago )
Death toll up to 7 in Uganda's unrest after Bobi Wine arrest
The death toll from protests over the arrest of Ugandan opposition presidential hopeful and musician Bobi Wine has risen to seven, police said Thursday, as a second day of demonstrations began
4:51AM ( 11 hours ago )
Approval of Wisconsin recount marked by partisan fight
The Wisconsin Elections Commission has agreed to issue an order on Thursday to recount ballots cast in Milwaukee and Dane counties as requested by President Donald Trump after hours of partisan squabbling
1:48AM ( 14 hours ago )
AP Elections
Trump pays $3 million for recount of 2 Wisconsin counties
President Donald Trump's campaign has paid $3 million for a recount of two heavily Democratic Wisconsin counties, saying that they were the site of the “worst irregularities.”
1:24PM ( 1 day ago )
Trump-friendly Newsmax a sudden competitor to Fox News
The Trump-friendly network Newsmax saw its viewership explode after the election, helped by fans of the president who were apparently miffed at Fox News Channel
1:19PM ( 1 day ago )
Controversial Fed nominee Shelton stalls in Senate test vote
President Donald Trump's controversial nominee to the Federal Reserve has stalled in the Senate after Vice President-elect Kamala Harris returned to the chamber to cast a key vote
12:05PM ( 1 day ago )
General Election News
Transition or tropics? EPA chief looks at final trips abroad
The head of the Environmental Protection Agency is looking at taxpayer-funded trips abroad, including the tropics, in the Trump administration’s last weeks
4:32PM ( 12 minutes ago )
The Latest: Biden says Trump hampering virus response plan
President-elect Joe Biden says the Trump administration’s refusal to give his team access to key federal agencies is affecting their ability to create a plan to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, particularly around vaccine distribution
4:31PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Biden tells governors he'll help states overcome coronavirus
In a virtual meeting with governors, Joe Biden has expressed concern that President Donald Trump’s unprecedented attempt to block the peaceful transition of power at the White House has hindered the flow of information about programs to fast-track a coronavirus vaccine
4:29PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Military pay raise at risk in dispute over Confederate bases
A defense bill that has passed every year since the Kennedy administration is in danger of failing
4:21PM ( 23 minutes ago )
Smithsonian closing museums and zoo again amid virus spike
In response to rising COVID-19 infection numbers, the Smithsonian Institution is indefinitely shutting down operations at all its facilities, effective Monday and affecting seven museums, plus the National Zoo
4:20PM ( 24 minutes ago )