Former President Donald Trump attempted to persuade Michigan legislators to have local law enforcement agencies seize voting machines in the days after the 2020 presidential election, according to a report published this week in the New York Times.
The state lawmakers declined Trump’s request. It was not immediately clear which legislators had been involved with the conversations.
“Democracy prevailed in 2020 because people with integrity on both sides of the aisle did the right thing,” Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, said in a statement to the Michigan Advance. “It will only prevail in 2022 and beyond if we continue the work of building a nonpartisan, pro-democracy coalition committed to following the rule of law and upholding the will of the people.”
On Dec. 2, 2020, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani was invited to take over the GOP-led Michigan House Oversight Committee hearing and air unfounded allegations of election fraud. Before the committee meeting, Giuliani had appeared on a Zoom call with then-Michigan Republican Party Chair Laura Cox to urge lawmakers to appoint pro-Trump electors.
“You have state legislators who are so frightened that they have a hard time focusing on it,” Giuliani said at the time. “You have got to get them to remember that their oath to the Constitution sometimes requires being criticized. Sometimes it even requires being threatened.”
Michigan Senate Oversight Committee Chair Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) was on a call with Giuliani, Trump attorney John Eastman — author of the Eastman Memo, a blueprint for Trump seizing power — and hundreds of other Republican lawmakers days before the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, the Advance reported last year, in which they were encouraged to decertify the election results.
McBroom said at the time that he did not hear evidence of significant voter fraud that could change the outcome of the election. Later in 2021, the Senate Oversight Committee that he chairs released a 35-page report concluding there was no widespread evidence of voter fraud and debunking several 2020 election conspiracy theories.
A majority of the Republican caucus in the Michigan Senate signed a letter asking Congress to examine unfounded allegations of voter fraud, though an earlier version of the letter asked to delay the electoral vote count beyond Jan. 6.
Eleven Republican members of the Michigan House of Representatives also signed onto a letter to former Vice President Mike Pence asking him to delay certification.
Trump reportedly also had considered the possibility of having the Department of Justice or the military seize the voting machines.
Michigan GOP Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock said in January that the Trump campaign directed the operation to have 16 fake Electoral College delegates submit a certificate declaring Trump the winner of Michigan’s electoral votes in December 2020.
In a Dec. 9 memo obtained by the New York Times, the effort in Michigan was deemed “slightly problematic” due to a requirement in state law that electors meet in the Michigan Senate chamber, which the memo suggested “could be a bit awkward.”
As a solution, the memo recommended the false electors meet in the Senate’s public gallery, since they would not be able to get onto the floor.
However, the fake slate of electors was blocked from entering the Capitol by law enforcement, as the building was closed to the public due to security concerns.
Maddock, who is married to state Rep. Matt Maddock (R-Milford), was one of the 16 false GOP electors. Despite not being allowed to enter the Capitol, Maddock and 15 others still signed the documents falsely claiming that Trump won the state’s electoral votes, which was then sent to the office of Pence, Benson, the national archivist in Washington, D.C., and the chief judge of the western district of Michigan.
Other signatories were: Hank Choate, Rose Rook, Mayra Rodriguez, Clifford Frost, John Haggard, Kent Vanderwood, Timothy King, Michele Lundgren, Marian Sheridan and Mari-Ann Henry. Two of the GOP delegates didn’t show up and were replaced. James Renner replaced Gerald Wall and Ken Thompson replaced former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land.
The documents were rejected by the archivist, who notified Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and others, and have become part of the U.S. House’s Jan. 6 commission inquiry into the insurrection of Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol last year seeking to stop Congress from certifying Biden’s Electoral College win and install Trump for another term.
Nessel, a Democrat, said that she “absolutely” had enough evidence to charge the false electors with state crimes, but referred the case to federal prosecutors instead as she does not have jurisdiction over six other states that Biden won where “seeming identical” false certificates were filed showing Trump as the winner. Those states are Arizona, Georgia, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which were all won by Biden.
“It’s clear to me that this was not independent rogue actors that were unknowingly doing the same thing as they had done in many other states,” Nessel said. “From a jurisdictional standpoint, we think it’s important because it allows for the federal authorities to determine if there was a conspiracy that was a multi-state conspiracy.”
Michigan Advance is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Michigan Advance maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Susan Demas for questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Michigan Advance on Facebook and Twitter.