All Eyes on Trump's Meeting With Michigan Lawmakers

It's not an 'advocacy' meeting, says White House, but stakes are high for president
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2020 1:45 PM CST
All Eyes on Trump's Meeting With Michigan Lawmakers
President Trump speaks at the White House on Nov. 5.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

(Newser) – President Trump's long-shot bid to remain president intensifies Friday in the form of an afternoon meeting at the White House with state Republican leaders from Michigan. The state's results are not yet certified, and Trump has sought to cast doubt on the credibility of the vote count there. In the best-case scenario for the president, lawmakers would void the results and swap in GOP-chosen electors instead, per the AP. Coverage:

  • 2 figures: Pressure is on Michigan legislative leaders Mike Shirkey of the Senate and Lee Chatfield of the House. Trump "is trying to cajole, bully and maybe even bribe them into doing something that would be a disaster for our country," alleges Democratic state lawmaker Jeff Irwin, per the Washington Post. Shirkey and state Sen. Tom Barrett were met by a crowd of protesters when they arrived at DC's Reagan National Airport.
  • Denial: White House spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany downplayed the significance of the meeting before it took place on Friday. Trump "routinely meets with lawmakers from all across the country," she said. "This is not an advocacy event."
  • Beforehand: Shirkey said earlier this week that legislative leaders will not decide the election. "That's not going to happen," he said, per Bridge Michigan.

  • Risky: For the sake of Shirkey and Chatfield, what McEnany said better be true because they could face criminal charges otherwise, writes University of Michigan law professor Richard Primus at Politico Magazine. “If I were their lawyer I would think twice about letting them put themselves in that kind of compromised position,” Primus tells NBC News.
  • No apology: "No matter the party, when you have an opportunity to meet with the President of the United States, of course you take it," Chatfield tweeted Friday. "I won’t apologize for that. In fact, I’m honored to speak with POTUS and proud to meet with him. And I look forward to our conversation."
  • Chances: Politico describes this as a "Hail Mary" by Trump, an analysis by David Sanger in the New York Times sees Trump's chance of success as "somewhere between remote and impossible," and the AP calls the gambit "extraordinary and sure-to-be-futile." One reason for the pessimism is that Trump would have to pull off this feat not only in Michigan but in other states such as Georgia and Arizona. Both of those states GOP governors and Republican-controlled legislatures.
  • Pennsylvania next? CNN reports that the White House is considering inviting lawmakers from Pennsylvania to the White House, too.
  • Criticism: Democratic congresswoman Debbie Dingell of Michigan voiced a sentiment common among the president's critics. "This goes beyond partisan politics, and it’s an attempt to subvert our democracy and undermine the will of Michigan voters," she said, per the Hill.
  • Notable tweet: Christopher Krebs, a Homeland Security official recently fired by Trump after he declared that the election was secure, watched Thursday's news conference by Trump's attorneys. "That press conference was the most dangerous 1hr 45 minutes of television in American history," he tweeted. "And possibly the craziest. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’re lucky."
(Read more Election 2020 stories.)

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