content-header__row content-header__hed” data-testid=”ContentHeaderHed”>Trump’s Last-Ditch Bid to Steal the Election: Install Loyal ElectorsWith vote certification deadlines looming, the president has invited Michigan Republican legislators to the White House in what looks like an attempt to override the will of the people.
November 19, 2020
Rudy Giuliani speaks to the press about lawsuits related to the 2020 election which have been proven to be baseless. Photo by Drew Angerer via Getty Images
On Friday, Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with Michigan Republican state legislators at the White House as he steps up a desperate bid to undermine the election that he lost decisively to President-elect Joe Biden. According to the New York Times, “Trump contacted the Republican majority leader in the Michigan State Senate to issue the invitation,” though it's unclear how many lawmakers will be heading to Washington. Some members of Trump’s team have “promoted the legally dubious theory that friendly legislators could under certain scenarios effectively subvert the popular vote and send their own, pro-Trump delegations to the Electoral College,” notes the Times.
Even after he’s spent weeks incessantly tweeting lies, conspiracy theories, and filing dubious lawsuits, the idea of Trump urging Michigan legislators to override the will of the people, in a state he lost by nearly 150,000 votes, would be a dramatic escalation of his efforts to delegitimize the electoral process. Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, one of the state officials expected to meet with Trump on Friday, has previously said that the legislature would not try to install pro-Trump electors. Still, even if doesn’t come to fruition, the president and his allies entertaining such an anti-democratic scheme remains deeply troubling. As deadlines for finalizing results get closer, Trump’s lawyers have failed to produce evidence to back up his wild fraud claims. Lawsuits filed in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have been predominately targeted counties with largely Black populations, raising concerns of mass voter disenfranchisement.
On Tuesday night, two Republican canvassers on the Wayne County Board refused to certify election results and singled out Detroit as an area rife with voting inconsistencies, even though no evidence exists to support that notion. Detroit is more than 75% Black. One of the canvassers, Monica Palmer, has said she received a call from Trump thanking her for her support. Palmer denies that this call influenced her decision-making, though—after speaking to Trump—she did attempt to rescind her eventual vote to certify the results. In October, Palmer was accused of having a conflict of interest between her role on the Board and founder of the Taxpayers for Grosse Pointe Schools PAC. "Monica Palmer should resign or be removed for her conflicts of interest as chairperson of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, which certifies elections," read a complaint filed by lawyer Thomas Bruetsch, adding that her "involvement in the PAC is incompatible with her public office." Palmer was noted as having said they would certify, “all communities” with the exception of Detroit.
Trump’s persistent attacks on the integrity of the election since November 3 have led to violent altercations across the country, which have only increased in swing states. While it remains unclear what exactly Trump will tell legislators at Friday's White House meeting, “a senior Trump campaign official told Reuters its plan is to cast enough doubt on vote-counting in big, Democratic cities that Republican lawmakers will have little choice but to intercede.” The Trump campaign, Reuters adds, “is betting that many of those lawmakers, who come from districts Trump won, will face a backlash from voters if they refuse to act.”
More Great Stories From Vanity Fair
— Ivanka and Jared’s Post–White House Future Is an Island Alone
— Inside Don Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle’s Supposed RNC-Takeover Plot
— Why Mike Pompeo’s Postelection Trump Worship Carries Real Risks
— Ivanka Trump Was My Best Friend. Now She’s MAGA Royalty
— As Trump Clings to Power, His Allies Quietly Admit Defeat
— Elon Musk’s Totally Awful, Completely Bonkers, Most Excellent Year
— After Biden’s Victory, Can the Media Tune Out Trump’s 2020 Delusions?
— From the Archive: Donald Trump Was the Best Cable-News President in History
— Not a subscriber? Join Vanity Fair to receive full access to VF.com and the complete online archive now.