President pressing Republican leaders in Michigan to set aside Biden win
Donald Trump was last night making a futile but dangerous last stand, without precedent in modern American history, to overturn the result of the presidential election so he can remain in power.
Even as Joe Biden’s victory in the state of Georgia was confirmed, the president was set to meet Republican leaders from Michigan at the White House in an increasingly desperate bid to subvert democracy after a series of courtroom defeats over allegations of voter fraud.
The Trump campaign’s apparent strategy is to persuade Republicancontrolled legislatures in Michigan and other battleground states that Biden won to set aside the will of the people and declare Trump the winner, despite officials declaring it the most secure election in American history.
“The entire election, frankly, in all the swing states should be overturned and the legislatures should make sure that the electors are selected for Trump,” Sidney Powell, one of Trump’s lawyers, told the Fox Business Network on Thursday, referring to the electoral college system.
Most experts dismiss the idea as political fantasy and probably unlawful. But they warn that an American president trying to reverse a free and fair election could poison millions of minds, conditioning his base to lose faith in democracy and regard Biden as an illegitimate president.
Hillary Clinton, defeated by Trump in the 2016 election, tweeted yesterday: “Protecting one man’s ego is not worth damaging the legitimacy of our democracy.”
Biden, a former vice-president, won the election and is preparing to take office on 20 January, but Trump has refused to concede and is searching for a way to invalidate the results, alleging widespread voter fraud without providing evidence.
Biden won nearly 6m more votes than Trump but the winner is determined by the electoral college, where each state’s electoral votes, based largely on population, are awarded to the winner of a state’s popular vote.
Biden leads by 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232 as states work to certify their results at least six days before the electoral college convenes on 14 December.
The Trump campaign is particularly targeting Michigan, which Biden won by 154,000 votes, in the hope that Republicans there will manipulate the electoral system. Its state legislative leaders, senate majority leader Mike Shirkey and house speaker Lee Chatfield, both Republicans, were said to be visiting the White House at Trump’s request. Shirkey was greeted by protesters and media at Washington’s Reagan airport. There were chants of “Certify the results!” and a shout of “Where is the evidence of fraud?”
Both Shirkey and Chatfield have previously denied that they might try to overturn Biden’s win, noting that Michigan law does not allow the legislature to directly select electors or award them to anyone other than the person who received the most votes.
Even so, the Michigan governor, Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, told the MSNBC TV network: “It’s incredibly dangerous that they are even entertaining the conversation. This is an embarrassment to the state.”
Earlier this week, two Republican canvassers blocked the certification of votes in Wayne county, Michigan, where Detroit is located, a majority black city. They later relented, amid cries of racism, and the results were certified. It then emerged that Trump made contact with the canvassers, Monica Palmer and William Hartmann, to express gratitude for their support. On Wednesday, Palmer and Hartmann signed affidavits saying they believed the county vote “should not be certified” after all. But Michigan’s secretary of state says they cannot rescind their votes.
Biden met the House of Representatives speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, yesterday after spending most of the week with advisers planning his administration.