The two Republican leaders of Michigan’s state legislature said Friday night that after a closely watched meeting with President Donald Trump, they “have not yet been made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan,” a state won by President-elect Joe Biden that has been at the center of Trump’s attempt to overturn the election.
The two leaders, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield, said in a statement that they would “follow the law and follow the normal process regarding Michigan’s electors.”
“The candidates who win the most votes win elections and Michigan’s electoral votes,” the statement said.
The statement focused not on the election but on the raging coronavirus pandemic, a subject about which Trump has shown little interest even as cases and deaths spike dangerously across the country. While Trump’s almost singular focus has been on his own electoral defeat, the Michigan Republicans said they had used the meeting to personally deliver a letter asking for federal assistance with the outbreak.
Trump retweeted the leaders' statement on Saturday morning, adding that it is "true" but he "will show massive and unprecedented fraud," something he and his legal team have failed to do. Soon afterwards, Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel and Michigan party chair Laura Cox published a letter to the Michigan Board of State Canvassers demanding an "audit" of the votes in Wayne County before they certify the election results.
Trump lost Michigan by the largest margin of any major swing state — some 150,000 votes. But with other states, like Georgia, moving quickly to certify their results, cementing Biden’s victory, Trump had zeroed in on the state in his effort to undermine the election. He had appeared to hope to convince the state’s Republican legislature to overthrow the will of Michigan voters and appoint pro-Trump electors to the Electoral College — a subversion of democracy with virtually no precedent in American history.
But the legislators’ statement appears to put that already remote possibility to rest. Trump’s efforts to prove voter fraud in court have almost all failed, and the campaign dropped its case in Michigan on Thursday.
On Friday afternoon, as speculation about the purpose of the meeting with Trump grew, Republican Michigan state Sen. Ed McBroom told BuzzFeed News that he expected the legislative leaders to “follow the law” and that they had committed to “ascribing the electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote.”
McBroom said that he didn’t understand why rumors about the state legislators’ motives behind the meeting with the president were spreading and that he trusted the judgment of the Michigan Board of State Canvassers, which will meet on Monday, to certify the election results.
“If they feel it’s appropriate to certify, that doesn’t necessarily mean that a recount might not occur or that other legal proceedings might not occur,” McBroom told BuzzFeed News.
He added that he believed that any recount effort in the presidential election would “probably be pretty fruitless.”
“The margins are much bigger than any vote count change that a recount would bring about unless the recount were to find some sort of substantial problems that weren’t already noticed by the boards of canvassers, which seems unlikely,” McBroom said.
Trump’s focus on Michigan began with a partisan battle in Wayne County, which voted heavily for Biden, over whether the county’s results should be certified. The two Republicans on the four-person Board of Canvassers initially refused to certify, citing false allegations of fraud and impropriety in the majority-Black city of Detroit.
They eventually agreed to certify the results. But after Trump personally called them, both officials attempted to rescind their vote. The effort is not likely to be successful, but they provided Trump with another opening in an attempt to muddy the waters of Biden’s decisive victory in the state.
Even if Trump were able to somehow stall or reverse Michigan’s votes, it would not be enough to overturn the election: Biden won 306 electoral votes; Trump won 232.