Michigan lawmakers say they will follow ‘normal process’ following Trump meeting

Two top Michigan state lawmakers said following a meeting with President Trump on Friday that they had not seen anything that would change the election outcome in their state and pledged to follow the normal process amid a push from the president and his allies to overturn the result.

“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,” Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and Speaker of the Michigan statehouse Lee Chatfield, both Republicans, said in a joint statement.

“Michigan’s certification process should be a deliberate process free from threats and intimidation,” they added. “Allegations of fraudulent behavior should be taken seriously, thoroughly investigated, and if proven, prosecuted to the full extent of the law. And the candidates who win the most votes win elections and Michigan’s electoral votes. These are simple truths that should provide confidence in our elections.” 

Shirkey and Chatfield said two oversight committees are undertaking a review of Michigan’s elections process to ensure transparency and accountability.

Biden leads Trump by more than 140,000 votes in the state, which Trump carried in 2016 by about 11,000 votes.

The two Michigan lawmakers said they were joined by their colleagues and said they delivered a letter to Trump that laid out their support for congressional aid to assist the state amid the coronavirus pandemic. Congress has not passed a relief package in months, putting small businesses in peril and complicating response efforts. The Michigan delegation sent the same letter to congressional leaders, Shirkey and Chatifield said.

But much of the national interest in the meeting was around Michigan’s presidential election results as Trump ratchets up efforts to cast doubt on the results and reverse the outcome.

The president reached out on Tuesday night to officials in Wayne County, Mich., who had sought to block the certification of votes there. The effort by those officials brought calls of racism from Detroit’s mayor given the number of votes by Black Americans that might have been overturned.

Trump then invited Shirkey and Chatfield to the White House for Friday’s meeting, which prompted backlash among watchdogs and lawmakers who viewed it as a brazen attempt to influence elected officials and push for pro-Trump electors to be appointed in Michigan.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany disputed that the gathering with Michigan officials was an “advocacy meeting” related to the campaign.

Shirkey told a local news outlet earlier this week that an electoral coup in the state is “not going to happen.” He was met with jeers and chants of “certify the results” upon landing at Reagan National Airport just outside Washington, D.C., on Friday morning.

Trump and members of his legal team have zeroed in on a long-shot bid to overturn the election results in Michigan and other states where Biden has been projected as the winner. The strategy has focused on discounting large numbers of votes in urban areas like Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Milwaukee. Those areas are Democratic strongholds and home to high percentages of Black voters.

Trump has shown no signs that he will concede the election soon, even as his legal challenges are thrown out and as states begin to certify Biden as the winner.

Georgia on Friday certified its results showing Joe Biden had won the state by more than 12,000 votes after a hand recount. Pennsylvania and Michigan, two more battleground states where Biden is leading handily, are expected to certify their results next week.

Trump’s bid to overturn the election is unlikely to work, experts say, but it is undermining confidence in the democratic system. During a campaign rally in Georgia earlier Friday, supporters chanted “stop the steal” as Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Vice President Pence spoke.