Michigan state House Speaker Lee Chatfield and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, both Republicans, are supposed to be headed to the White House Friday for a chat with President Donald Trump, who’s been eager to overturn the results of the Nov. 3 election won by Democrat Joe Biden.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appeared Thursday night on both CNN and MSNBC, with the GOP leaders’ meeting as the primary topic of discussion.
CNN host Erin Burnett asked Whitmer about Trump’s contention that he should win Michigan, despite losing by about 155,000 votes, and what she can do about it.
“The president can say all he wants; he can summon people to the White House all he wants. He can try to interfere — which raises serious legal and ethical questions, by the way. But the fact of the matter is, Joe Biden won this state and won big — by 14 times the margin that Donald Trump won Michigan in 2016,” said Whitmer, a former Ingham County prosecutor.
“The will of the people will be done. And these efforts to disenfranchise Wayne County, where the majority of our African American voters live is just a blatant attempt to steal the election result and disenfranchise Michigan voters, and it will not stand.”
That echoes arguments made by University of Michigan law professor Richard Primus in a Thursday Politico column. He argues taking the meeting is a threat to democracy, but he also lays out a case that it “threatens the two Michigan legislators, personally, with the risk of criminal investigation.” Neither Shirkey nor Chatfield are attorneys.
“The president is a dealmaker, and it’s far more likely that his agenda is transactional. When considering a course of action, he doesn’t think about principles; he thinks about what’s in it for whom. So it makes sense to think that he is inviting Shirkey and Chatfield for a private meeting to offer them something,” Primus writes.
“… The danger for Shirkey and Chatfield, then, is that they are being visibly invited to a meeting where the likely agenda involves the felony of attempting to bribe a public official.”
Primus notes that if Trump is successful in staying in office for a second term, he could stymie a Department of Justice investigation, but he would have no ability to stop a state probe by Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel, whose spokesperson retweeted the story.
Whitmer was asked about Shirkey’s previous comments that seemed to suggest the Legislature would not intervene in the post-election process and if she was concerned that he would now change his mind.
She responded, “of course … I don’t know why they’d be going to the White House.”
Earlier on Thursday, Whitmer noted that she and Democratic legislative leaders sent a letter to congressional leaders asking for a COVID-19 relief bill, but Shirkey and Chatfield declined to sign on.
“Maybe they’re going to lobby for COVID funding, which would be welcome here in Michigan and across the country. It’s one of the things that our nation’s governors — I was one of them — met with the incoming Biden administration about today [said] is desperately needed. And if that’s what they’re doing wonderful, but if they’re going there to undermine the results of this election and disenfranchise Michigan voters and to embarrass the state of Michigan, what they are doing runs against our law and they should be very careful because it’s dangerous.” Read more