Pres­i­dent press­ing Repub­li­can lead­ers in Michi­gan to set aside Bi­den win

The Guardian - - News Coronaviru­s - David Smith

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.

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