Trump Drops Challenge to Michigan Vote Certification

Wayne County Board of Canvassers Chair Monica Palmer, left, talks with Vice Chair Jonathan Kinloch before the board’s meeting in Detroit on Tuesday. (Robin Buckson/Detroit News via AP)

DETROIT (CN) — President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign voluntarily dismissed its federal lawsuit seeking to block certification of Michigan election results Thursday based on the inaccurate claim that officials in Detroit refused to certify the results.

The Wayne County Board of Canvassers was initially deadlocked with a 2-2 vote Tuesday when Republicans Monica Palmer and William Hartmann balked at approving the results and claimed they did not add up correctly, especially in Detroit, but acquiesced when outrage grew from fellow canvassers as well as other observers.

But the pair reversed course late Wednesday and filed signed affidavits alleging they were pressured to change their votes.

“We deserve better — but more importantly, the American people deserve better — than to be forced to accept an outcome achieved through intimidation, deception, and threats of violence,” they said in a statement. “Wayne County voters need to have full confidence in this process.”

Tracy Wimmer, a spokeswoman for Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, told the Detroit Free Press on Wednesday the process was completed and Palmer and Hartmann’s votes cannot be amended.

“There is no legal mechanism for them to rescind their vote,” she said. “Their job is done and the next step in the process is for the Board of State Canvassers to meet and certify.”

But the Trump campaign’s Michigan-based lawyer Thor Hearne disregarded the county’s certification in a notice of voluntary dismissal filed Thursday in the Western District of Michigan.

“The Wayne County board of county canvassers met and declined to certify the results of the presidential election,” the filing states, citing the affidavits from Palmer and Hartmann.

Rudy Giuliani, who has taken an increasingly visible role in President Trump’s legal efforts to overturn the election, released a statement that mirrored the mistaken belief that the Detroit-area results were not final.  

“This morning we are withdrawing our lawsuit in Michigan as a direct result of achieving the relief we sought: to stop the election in Wayne County from being prematurely certified before residents can be assured that every legal vote has been counted and every illegal vote has not been counted,” he said.

The certification of results is a critical but tedious part of the process for reviewing the votes and counting procedures to confirm they were legally executed. The deadline for Wayne County to complete certification has passed and the results are now in the hands of the state elections board.

Trump reportedly reached out to Palmer and Hartmann on Tuesday night and commended them on their stand in a phone call. They released the affidavits to rescind their votes the next day. 

Palmer caused an uproar when she first voted against certification of the results and faced accusations of racism when she offered a compromise to certify election results for jurisdictions other than Detroit.  

Trump also invited leaders from Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature to meet with him Friday at the White House.

According to the Detroit News, Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield plan to meet with Trump.

A spokeswoman for Shirkey said last week that the state’s electoral votes will go to the candidate with the most votes in the state.

“Michigan law does not include a provision for the Legislature to directly select electors or to award electors to anyone other than the person who received the most votes,” she said.

President-elect Joe Biden won Michigan by more than 148,000 votes, with the bulk of support from Wayne County, where he beat Trump by more than 322,000 votes.

In a statement released Thursday, Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes said Palmer and Hartmann’s votes cannot be changed at this point.

“There is no legal basis to their claims nor does there exist a path for them to ‘take back’ their vote,” she said. “Certifying all election results for the state is now in the hands of the Michigan Board of Canvassers.”

The state board, which would be charged with certifying the Wayne County results if the county board had not acted, is scheduled to meet Monday to certify election results statewide.

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