Donald Trump sought to leverage the power of the Oval Office on Friday in an extraordinary attempt to block President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, but his pleas to Michigan lawmakers to overturn the will of their constituents didn’t work.
Trump summoned a delegation of the battleground state’s Republican leadership, including the Senate majority leader and House speaker, in an apparent extension of his efforts to persuade judges and election officials to set aside Biden’s 154,000-vote margin of victory and grant Trump the state’s electors. It came amid mounting criticism that Trump’s futile efforts to subvert the results of the 2020 election could do long-lasting damage to democratic traditions.
Trump’s efforts extended to other states that Biden carried as well, amounting to an unprecedented attempt by a sitting president to maintain his grasp on power, or in failure, to delegitimize his opponent’s victory in the eyes of his army of supporters.
In a joint statement after the White House meeting, Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield said allegations of fraud should be investigated but indicated they were unmoved by Trump’s claims thus far. “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,” they said.
“The candidates who win the most votes win elections and Michigan’s electoral votes,” they added, saying they used the meeting with Trump to press him for more pandemic aid money for their state.
“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 16 electoral votes. These are simple truths that should provide confidence in our elections.”
The Michigan lawmakers were met with severe criticism for taking the trip in the first place, and were later spotted enjoying themselves in the lobby of the Trump International Hotel where they were staying. Photographs show them unmasked and drinking $500 bottles of Dom Perignon.
— Lauren Windsor (@lawindsor) November 21, 2020
Breaking: @LeeChatfield, the same day he pretended his meeting with @realDonaldTrump was about COVID, pictured maskless, drinking in Trump hotel with others. A slap in the face to the people in Michigan who are doing their best to fight COVID. pic.twitter.com/aSZr9ubS6q
— Lonnie Scott (@LonnieScott) November 21, 2020
Two different Americas.
LEFT: Americans on food lines in Texas.
RIGHT: Michigan legislators at Trump Hotel drinking Dom Perignon pic.twitter.com/cSVoU5WyAY
— Mr. Newberger (@jeremynewberger) November 21, 2020