Michigan attorney general looks at criminal charges for state officials who would overturn election results

Graig Graziosi
·3-min read
Republican members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers William Hartmann, left and Republican chairperson Monica Palmer, to his right, were contacted by Donald Trump after they agreed to certify the county’s election results.  (AP)
Republican members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers William Hartmann, left and Republican chairperson Monica Palmer, to his right, were contacted by Donald Trump after they agreed to certify the county’s election results. (AP)

Michigan's attorney general is reportedly looking into whether or not officials will be violating the law if they act on Donald Trump's instructions to block the certification of Joe Biden's victory in the state.

The Washington Post reported that Dana Nessel, a Democrat, is one of many officials growing increasingly concerned with the president’s attempts to influence the outcome of the state's election.

The publication cited anonymous sources close to the attorney general.

Michigan was in the spotlight earlier this week when two Republican board members on a canvassing committee in Wayne County refused to certify the results of the 2020 election. After public backlash, the officials buckled and agreed to certify the results.

Mr Trump called the officials on Tuesday night, after which they sought to rescind their vote to certify the election.

Wayne County is the home to the city of Detroit. Refusing to certify the results would result in primarily Democrat and disproportionately Black voters having their legally cast ballots thrown out.

Mr Trump's call was not the only effort he made to influence Michigan lawmakers; on Friday, four Michigan Republicans from the state legislature flew to Washington DC to take a meeting with the president.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the meeting was a standard meeting between the lawmakers and Mr Trump, and that it had nothing to do with the election. However, protesters - convinced that Mr Trump was going to try to pressure the officials to select electors loyal to him who would cast their votes in the electoral college in his favour - met the lawmakers in Washington DC with signs that read "shame."

Following the meeting, the Michigan lawmakers issued a statement saying they had "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."

The night after their meeting, the lawmakers were photographed patronising a bar at the Trump Hotel drinking Dom Perignon, sparking criticism on social media.

According to the sources that spoke to The Washington Post, the attorney general is examining whether any of the state officials engaged in bribery, perjury or conspiracy.

Mr Biden leads Mr Trump in Michigan by more than 150,000 votes. In Michigan, a recount can only be triggered if the margin between candidates is 2,000 or fewer. Because the Trump campaign can not utilise a recount to change the election results, it appears the campaign is focused on invalidating ballots.

According to the website MLive.com, an attempt to stall Michigan from certifying the state in favour of Mr Biden, GOP National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel and Michigan Republican chair Laura Cox have urged the state's Board of State Canvassers from certifying the election results.

The leaders called for the board to adjourn for two weeks, allowing time for a full audit and investigation into "numerical anomalies and credible reports of procedural irregularities."

The last-ditch effort on the part of the GOP appears to be a response to Mr Trump's apparent failure to pressure the Michigan lawmakers to intervene in the election on his behalf.

According to the Detroit News, Michigan's secretary of state Jocelyn Benson said her office would eventually perform an audit of Wayne County and other areas for any evidence of irregularities, but said she could not do so prior to the state certifying the results, as she would not have access to the legal documents she would need for the inquiry until after certification.

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