WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The top two Republicans in Michigan’s Legislature were called to the White House Friday as President Donald Trump continues to fight the outcome of the Nov. 3 election.
While Michigan’s vote is still in the process of being certified, preliminary numbers show President-elect Joe Biden won the state by more than 150,000 votes.
“This is not an advocacy meeting,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said of Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield and Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey’s visit with the president. “There will be no one from the campaign there.”
She said the sudden meeting wasn’t unusual.
“He (the president) routinely meets with lawmakers from all across the country,” she said.
In a statement posted to Twitter Friday evening, Shirkey and Chatfield said they spoke with Trump about COVID-19 and asked for additional federal dollars for Michigan. They went on to say that a state legislative committee is reviewing the election and that They have faith in that process “to provide greater transparency and accountability to our citizens.” But they added that they haven’t yet seen anything that will change the way Michigan voted.
“…We will follow the law and follow the normal process regarding Michigan’s electors, just as we have said throughout this election,” the statement said in part. “Michigan’s certification process should be a deliberate process free from threats and intimidation. Allegations of fraudulent behavior should be taken seriously, thoroughly investigated, and if proven, prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. And the candidates who win the most votes win elections and Michigan’s electoral votes. These are simple truths that should provide confidence in our elections.”
But considering Trump’s continuing refusal to accept the results of the election, including repeatedly railing against the count in Detroit, Democrats say the move was a clear bid to change the outcome in Michigan.
“It’s an abuse of office,” Bob Bauer, a legal adviser to Biden’s transition team, said. “It’s an open attempt to intimidate election officials. It’s absolutely appalling.”
He argued the president wants the Republican-led Michigan Legislature to ignore the results and instead give him the state’s 16 electoral votes.
“It’s also pathetic,” Bauer added.
A George Washington University law professor says that while the maneuver may be legal, it’s a longshot.
“Federal law allows for legislatures of the state to create the rules under which an election will proceed, but it does not clearly give the legislatures the ability to overturn the will of the electorate,” Professor Paul Schiff Berman said.
Still, Republicans who back Trump say that if there’s credible fraud — something there has been no evidence of — the idea shouldn’t be ruled out.
“We’ll just have to see. Let it play out,” Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said.