Trump also called two Republican canvass board members from Wayne County, to Tuesday to offer his support, the person said, after they went back and forth on voting to certify the election results from the state’s largest county, which includes Detroit. The board members filed affidavits Wednesday seeking to “rescind” their votes to certify the election result.
Trump extended the invitation on Thursday morning to the Michigan lawmakers by calling the state senate’s Republican majority leader, the person familiar said.
Certification is usually a formality, but Trump is trying to block or delay the process in key states as part of a long-shot effort to overturn his election defeat through the Electoral College. Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani and other allies have suggested that GOP state legislatures in battleground states Biden won should try to use a delay in certification to appoint their own slate of electors and ignore the states’ popular votes for Biden.
It’s not clear what Trump’s message to the Michigan GOP lawmakers will be. Both Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield have said that they will honor their state’s popular vote and not stray from the process of how electors in Michigan are selected. Biden currently has a 154,187 vote lead over Trump in the Great Lakes State.
On September 24, Shirkey led the Senate to pass a resolution assuring that electors vote for the candidate with the most votes that gets certified by election officials. “The Michigan Senate commits to the selection of electors to the Electoral College that will be faithful to voting for the candidate with the most votes for President in Michigan as certified by Michigan election officials,” the resolution read.
The campaign’s arguments in court have roundly failed, with lawsuits being dropped or dismissed in Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
One source familiar with the President’s thinking told CNN that Trump has heard from a multitude of friends and business associates who have been urging him to at least let the transition begin, even if he doesn’t want to concede. He’s said they are “absolutely wrong,” the source said.
Calls to canvassers in Detroit area
In Wayne County, the two Republican members of the county Board of Canvassers received calls from Trump on Tuesday.
“I did receive a call from President Trump, late Tuesday evening, after the meeting,” Palmer told the Post. “He was checking in to make sure I was safe after hearing the threats and doxing that had occurred.”
The GOP board members in Wayne County threw the normally typical election certification process into chaos on Tuesday when they initially voted against certifying the county’s results, leaving the board in a 2-2 deadlock.
After hours of public pressure and complaints that they were brazenly disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of voters from the majority-Black city of Detroit, the Republicans changed their votes and the certification passed unanimously.
“There is no legal mechanism for them to rescind their vote,” said Michigan Secretary of State spokeswoman Tracy Wimmer. “Their job is done and the next step in the process is for the Board of State Canvassers to meet and certify.”
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, said on CNN Thursday that Trump’s calls to the Republican members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers were “improper.”
“I do think it’s certainly improper for any candidate on either side of the aisle to try to interfere with, which is a very proper but administrative function of the Board of Canvassers,” Benson said. “There’s no legal or factual basis to question their choice.”
Benson suggested that Trump’s call influenced the GOP board members. “I think we certainly saw a reversal of change of course,” she said.
Democratic Vice Chair Jonathan Kinloch said on Thursday that the county certification date of November 17 is a definitive deadline and that board members’ votes cannot be changed after the fact. The GOP officials sent their affidavits to the county, but the action stops there. They have not filed any lawsuits to try to force the county to call a new meeting.
“There is no further action that can be taken in regards to the certification,” Kinloch told CNN. “They’re making a spectacle out of it because of the pressures that they’re getting.”
Asked by the Post if she had discussed the presidential vote count with Trump, Palmer said: “It’s hard for me to describe. There was a lot of adrenalin and stress going on. There were general comments about different states but we really didn’t discuss the details of the certification. … It was not pressure. It was genuine concern for my safety.”
CNN has reached out to Palmer and Hartmann about the calls.
Next steps in Michigan
The next step in Michigan is for the state’s Board of Canvassers to certify the election results, which is scheduled for next week. That board includes two Republicans and two Democrats, and the spouse of one of the Republican board members, Norm Shinkle, filed an affidavit supporting the Trump campaign’s Michigan lawsuit.
Benson said Thursday her office would perform a statewide risk-limiting audit as well as local performance audits of individual jurisdictions. These audits were planned ahead of time.
Benson mentioned specifically that her office would carry out a local performance audit in Wayne County, which was something the GOP canvassing board members called on her to do when they certified the results on Tuesday. The two Republicans who have since filed affidavits to rescind their votes claimed that Benson was wavering on her promise to complete an audit, but Benson’s announcement Thursday negates those concerns.
The Trump campaign dropped its lawsuit in Michigan alleging voting irregularities on Thursday, including the two affidavits from the GOP board members and misrepresenting that Wayne County’s election results had not been certified.
This story has been updated with a new headline and reporting.
CNN’s Gloria Borger contributed to this report.