GOP leaders urge leeway for state canvassers ahead of certification meeting

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey | Senate Republicans photo

After attending a meeting with President Donald Trump on Friday — amid rumors that doing so would be playing into Trump’s plan of illegally handing himself the election that he lost to President-elect Joe Biden — Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) and House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) failed to rebuff Trump’s own tweets that framed the meeting as more of a discussion about election fraud than one about federal COVID-19 relief.

Trump says meeting with Michigan GOP leaders ‘much different than reported by the media’

Both GOP leaders also insisted over the weekend that the Michigan Board of State Canvassers, which meets Monday afternoon to certify election results, should be allowed to take whatever action they deem necessary without “intimidation and threats.”

Shirkey tweeted Sunday: “As I’ve repeatedly said, our election process MUST be free of intimidation and threats. Whether the Board of Canvassers certifies our results tomorrow or decides to take the full time allowed by law to perform their duties, it’s inappropriate for anyone to exert pressure on them.”

By law, the board has a ministerial duty to certify statewide results as long as all county returns have been presented to them.

If they refuse, the courts could step in and force their hand. Members could also face removal from the board and other possible consequences if their actions constitute a breach of duty or a deliberate attempt to impede the process.

Biden, a Democrat, won Michigan over Trump, a Republican, by about 150,000 votes, according to unofficial returns. He is to be awarded the state’s 16 electoral votes under Michigan’s winner-take-all system.

The State Board of Canvassers is set to meet at 1 p.m. Monday for the all-important meeting.

On Friday, the GOP leaders released a joint statement insisting that their meeting with Trump was about federal COVID-19 funds, although they had declined to sign onto a letter last week from Michigan Democrats including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer asking the same thing.

Shirkey and Chatfield added that they “have not yet been made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan,” before going on to say that “allegations of fraudulent behavior should be taken seriously, thoroughly investigated, and if proven, prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”