Trump to host lawmakers as options dwindle

Joseph Ax
·3-min read

President Donald Trump will meet the Republican leaders of the Michigan state legislature at the White House, as his campaign pursues an increasingly desperate bid to overturn the November 3 election amid a series of courtroom losses.

Meanwhile, President-elect Joe Biden is scheduled to meet the Democratic leaders in Congress, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, after spending the week huddled with advisers as he plans his administration.

The Trump campaign's latest strategy, according to people familiar with the plan, is to convince Republican-controlled legislatures in battleground states that Biden won, such as Michigan and Pennsylvania, to undermine the election results and deliver those states to the Republican president.

Trump's attempts to reverse the outcome via lawsuits and recounts have had little success. A hand recount of Georgia's roughly five million votes finished on Thursday, affirming Biden's victory there, while judges in three states rejected bids by the campaign to challenge vote counts.

Biden, the Democratic former vice-president, has secured 306 votes to Trump's 232 in the electoral college that determines the winner. Each state's electoral votes are typically awarded to the winner of the state's popular vote, which are cast in December in what is usually a formality.

A senior Trump campaign official said the idea was to sow doubt about the results in certain states while pressing Republican lawmakers to intervene by appointing their own Trump-supporting electors.

Legal experts have sounded the alarm at the notion of a president seeking to undermine the will of the voters, though they are sceptical that a state legislature could lawfully substitute its own electors.

Michigan's state legislative leaders, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield, both Republicans, will visit the White House on Friday at Trump's request and listen to what he has to say, according to a source in Michigan.

Shirkey told a Michigan news outlet this week the legislature would not appoint a second slate of electors.

Trump separately reached out to an election official in Wayne County, where Detroit is located, after she questioned whether to certify the results there.

His outreach to state officials represents a shift for his re-election campaign, which has been unable to muster evidence to support the president's unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud.

Biden called Trump's attempts "totally irresponsible" on Thursday, though he has expressed little concern they will prevent him taking office on January 20.

Biden spent the week putting together his team. His incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain, told CNN that Biden would announce more White House officials on Friday.

Despite the setbacks, the Trump campaign has not abandoned its legal efforts to overturn the election results.

Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, told a news conference on Thursday he planned to file more lawsuits, accusing Democrats of masterminding a "national conspiracy" to steal the election while offering no evidence to support the claim.

Giuliani's agitated performance, featuring rivulets of hair dye running down his face, was widely mocked by Democrats. Others expressed alarm.

"That press conference was the most dangerous 1hr 45 minutes of television in American history," tweeted Christopher Krebs, who headed up the US government's efforts to combat election disinformation until he was fired by Trump earlier this week.