Trump's Maneuver to Intimidate Michigan Lawmakers Fails
'We Will Follow the Law'
Michigan GOP Leaders after meeting Trump, issue a statement 'We Will Follow the Law'
Seven Michigan lawmakers traveled to meet with Trump for about an hour. The visit came as supporters of the president have moved in recent days to overturn the results of the state's election, which Democratic President-elect Joe Biden won by more than 154,000 votes in unofficial returns.
"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," House Speaker Lee Chatfield and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said in a joint statement after the meeting.
"These are simple truths that should provide confidence in our elections," they added.
The White House press secretary defended the meeting "He routinely meets with lawmakers from all across the country.”
Let's get real. This was a strange meeting at the very least.
Trump did not invite Michigan legislators to the White House to play tiddlywinks or for idle chat no matter what they actually discussed.
Giuliani Encourages Michigan Legislators to Appoint New Electors
This tiddlywinks maneuver comes at a time when Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani openly advocated state legislators to appoint a new set of electors who would vote for Trump as noted by Time.
Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney told associates that his goal is to cast enough doubt on the election that state legislatures won’t certify the results for Biden. “Rudy told people he was trying to get the legislatures to flip,” a source familiar with the campaign’s legal strategy tells TIME. “Rudy’s view of the world is if he does a good enough job inflaming the results, Pennsylvania won’t certify, Wisconsin won’t certify"
“Trump is losing in court after court, in state after state. So the damage he’s doing isn’t to the likelihood of President-elect Biden assuming office in January 20, which will happen,” says Josh Geltzer, the executive director of Georgetown Law’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection. “The damage Trump’s doing is to how large portions of the American public view the legitimacy of that presidency and of our democracy itself. Democratic self-government is one of the great acts of collective faith in human history, and Trump is trying desperately to break that faith.”
The Trump campaign’s legal strategy is “not going to stop Biden from being president; it’s going to be corrosive,” says Ned Foley, director of the election law program at The Ohio State University. “If each and every time we can’t acknowledge the validity of the opponent’s win, then at some point people will stop believing in the process and accepting it.”
After election officials certify the votes, federal law mandates that a state executive, usually the Governor, approves the slate of electors for the winning candidate. If states complete this process before that Dec. 8 safe harbor deadline, they are virtually guaranteed Congress will accept that slate of electors when the body convenes on Jan. 6 to confirm the results.
Georgia is certified. Michigan is next. And that will be that even as Giuliani and Team Trump pressure legislators and election officials in Michigan and Pennsylvania.
Michigan Certification Monday
The role of the board is very narrow and limited. It is to canvass and certify election results. Michigan election law experts told reporters on a press call Friday that the language of the law, which states that the board "shall canvass the returns," is key to understanding the requirements of the board.
"That's a mandatory requirement," John Pirich, a former assistant attorney general to the state of Michigan and current law professor at Michigan State University, said when explaining the laws that govern the board.
"The Michigan Supreme Court has been very clear that 'shall' means 'shall.' It's mandatory. It's ministerial. They have no choice," said Mark Brewer, the longest serving chair of the Michigan Democratic Party and an attorney at the lawfirm Goodman Acker.
The board cannot ask for an audit prior to certification, according to Michigan law.
If the board becomes locked in a 2-2 partisan deadlock, like what initially happened with the Wayne County Board of Canvassers on Tuesday, two parallel processes can occur.
Liedel said the court has proceeded with contempt proceedings in the past for members of the board failing to certify and that board members refusing to certify could be charged with a misdemeanor or willful neglect of duty. If the issue is not resolved by the Court of Appeals it would go to the Michigan Supreme Court, but Michigan election lawyers agreed Friday that it going to that level is unlikely.
At the same time, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, has the power to remove and replace any board member, according to Michigan law, and can act without waiting for a court or anyone else.
Can the legislature get involved and appoint their own electors?
The short answer, according to Michigan election experts, is no.
Even if the State Board of Canvassers refuses to certify results and the issue goes to the courts and Whitmer potentially steps in, Michigan election lawyers explained that the legislature cannot try to appoint their own electors.
"You can look through the entire Michigan election code that was written by the legislature and signed by governors of both parties. There is no role for the legislature in this process," Brewer said.
Michigan will certify on Monday. That's the proper conclusion. And Whitmer can force it if necessary.
Contrary to popular delusion, the Supreme Court is not going to go against state certifications.
This is rapidly winding up.
Team Trump has lost every battle and it is highly doubtful the Supreme Court gets involved in any significant way.