Official Who Wants to Rescind Certification Got Trump Call

But Michigan's Monica Palmer says president did not pressure her to change mind
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 19, 2020 8:49 AM CST
Updated Nov 19, 2020 12:00 PM CST
Certification of Votes in Detroit Is a Mess
In this Nov. 17 photo, Wayne County Board of Canvassers Chair Monica Palmer, left, talks with Vice Chair Jonathan Kinloch before a board meeting.   (Robin Buckson/Detroit News via AP, File)

What is normally a formality regarding the certification of votes has morphed into a caustic, confusing situation in Wayne County, Michigan—home of Detroit. President Trump himself has personally weighed in, via phone calls to the Republican election officials involved. This all began Tuesday, when a four-member county elections board met to vote on certifying the 2020 results. Details:

  • Deadlock/reversal: The board's initial vote ended in a 2-2 deadlock after its two Republican members voted not to certify. Monica Palmer and William Hartmann cited discrepancies in vote totals in some Detroit precincts, reports the Detroit News. After much debate, Palmer and Hartmann relented and voted to certify the results after all, saying they were promised that an audit would take place.

  • Another reversal: On Wednesday, both Palmer and Hartmann declared they wanted to rescind their votes to certify, reports the Detroit News. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson does not consider the agreed-upon language about an audit to be binding, and the Republicans say they were misled. "I would not have agreed to the certification but for the promise of an audit," wrote Hartmann in his affidavit. The pair also complained of "intimidation" and "threats of violence" after their initial no votes.
  • Trump calls: Between her vote to certify and her announcement that she wanted to rescind that vote, Palmer received a call Tuesday night from President Trump. “His concern was about my safety and that was really touching," she tells the Washington Post. "He is a really busy guy and to have his concern about my safety was appreciated." Palmer says the president did not pressure her to rescind her vote, adding that they did not discuss the issue in detail. The AP reports Trump also reached out to Hartmann, though no details have emerged about that call.
  • Criticism: The board's Democratic vice chair, Jonathan Kinloch, tells the Post his GOP colleagues are out of order. "Do they understand how they are making us look as a body?" he says. "We have such an amazing and important role in the democratic process, and they’re turning it on its head."
  • Moot? The AP reports that it appears to be too late for the Republicans to rescind their votes, because the county board had already reported its certification to the state. "There is no legal mechanism for them to rescind their vote," says secretary of state spokeswoman Tracy Wimmer. "Their job is done and the next step in the process is for the Board of State Canvassers to meet and certify." That is scheduled to happen Monday. The four-member state board also has two Democrats and two Republicans.
(Read more Election 2020 stories.)

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