Donald Trump wants to turn his election defeat into a victory. Even if everything speaks against him. In the state of Michigan he is going as far as nowhere else.
On Tuesday evening, Monica Palmer suddenly had Donald Trump on the line.
Palmer has had a stressful day. The Republican sits on a committee that reviews the election results in Wayne County, Michigan. Biden has clearly won the district. With her Republican colleague, Palmer had initially refused to certify the result in an hour-long meeting, only to give in after a public outcry a short time later.
Photo series with 17 pictures
On Wednesday morning, the two Republicans suddenly changed their minds. They would rather withdraw their approval of the result. After the phone call with Trump.
Michigan is the most far-reaching example to date of Donald Trump’s attempt to undermine the election, and thus democracy. In other contested states, his lawyers are still trying to wreak havoc and sow doubt with a flood of mostly futile lawsuits. In Michigan, Trump is now personally taking matters into his own hands – with quite undisguised pressure.
A weak argument put forward weakly
The Monica Palmer case is just one indication of his tactics, albeit a particularly alarming one. On Tuesday there was already a scandal in the committee. Palmer and her Republican colleague, who is said to have received a Trump call later, initially did not want to confirm the results and opposed the two Democrats in the non-partisan body.
They argued that there were small discrepancies between the number of actual votes and the number of citizens who were recorded to have voted. According to experts, such deviations are quite normal and happen, for example, when a voter comes to the vote and is registered, but then leaves again because of the long waiting time.
The mistakes were very small, nowhere near enough to jeopardize Biden’s comfortable leadership of more than 148,000 votes in Michigan. A weak reason not to certify the election result in Michigan’s largest district.
But the Republicans continued to undermine their position. They agreed to certify the result in all subdistricts except the city of Detroit. There, 80 percent of the population are black, which brought Palmer and her colleague the accusation of racism. Joe Biden also won a lot of votes in Detroit. Many did not believe in coincidence. The minor discrepancies, the main argument against certification, existed in both Detroit and the subdistricts that the Republicans wanted to accept.
Who should that convince?
Trump team withdraws lawsuit in Michigan
So there followed the public outcry against the blockade, the relenting, the calls from Trump and the next morning the desire of the two Republicans to withdraw their consent.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Palmer denied that Trump had put pressure on her vote. “He wanted to make sure I was fine after hearing about the threats,” she said. Sounds nice. The election supervisor in Michigan, Jocelyn Benson, who has to formulate carefully due to the office, found another word for the calls when talking to CNN: inappropriate. An explicit instruction from Trump is not needed for this judgment. After all, a candidate in an election had called those officials who had a say in the outcome. And who actually wanted to revise their vote afterwards.
Ultimately, the Republicans didn’t get away with their backing out. Once certified, the result can no longer be withdrawn, a spokesperson for the election officer made clear. Consent is consent.
However, the Trump team apparently didn’t take notice – or chose not to take notice. On Thursday, attorneys withdrew a major lawsuit in Michigan on the grounds that Wayne County’s “premature certification” had been halted. With that you achieved what you wanted. Experts, like many others, gave this lawsuit little or no chance of success – possibly the real reason for this withdrawal.
Rudy Giuliani: The highly controversial lawyer is responsible for Trump’s election lawsuit. (Source: Jacquelyn Martin / AP / dpa)
Trump’s second extraordinary intervention
In any case, Donald Trump obviously does not see his goal yet. According to the US media, he has invited Republican MPs from Michigan to his White House this Friday. The New York Times reports that Trump will meet with the Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and the Speaker of the House of Representatives there, Lee Chatfield, in the late afternoon.
It is Trump’s second completely extraordinary intervention within a few days. It is not yet known what exactly the meeting will be about. But it seems clear that it won’t be a coffee party. Especially since it fits a scenario that has long been discussed as a possible tactic of the Trump team to turn results in contested states.
The Republican-dominated parliament in Michigan could theoretically choose not to recognize the entire electoral process because of all the alleged fraud – and simply send the state’s 16 electors themselves. For Trump, of course. Indeed, it could even result in two competing groups of Michigan electors being set up: one through the regular process for Biden, and one through parliament for Trump.
An unlikely scenario
It is a very unlikely scenario, even in theory. The two leading Republicans that Trump invited have also announced in advance that the candidate with the most votes will be awarded the electors in Michigan. That actually rules out such actions.
Even if it did, the Supreme Court or the US Congress would have to decide. And without proven, widespread electoral fraud, everything speaks for the regular process and thus the Biden electors.
But maybe there will be another scandal in Michigan before this scenario can occur. The election result for the entire state is to be certified on Monday. As in the individual districts, a non-partisan body is responsible for this at the state level, two Republicans, two Democrats. Here, too, the Republicans could oppose. He has made it sufficiently clear that Trump wants that. The result would almost certainly be a legal battle.
Even then, it is unlikely that Trump will prevail. And the current president has a much bigger problem: even if he turns Michigan against all odds and gets 16 electors, he has still not won the election by a long way. Biden has 306 electors, Trump only 232. He would need this miracle in several states.
Of course, Trump doesn’t stop that. He just looks how far he can go.