MI GOP leaders meeting with Trump

So Michigan’s Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield have flown into DC this morning with plans to meet with Trump, who asked the two legislators to meet with him following his campaign’s repeated failures to flip Michigan’s electoral results.

Two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press that Trump invited Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield. They agreed to go, according to a state official aware of the leaders’ plans. The two officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were discussing private conversations.
Trump’s campaign is openly floating the notion of trying to get friendly state legislatures to appoint electors who would overturn the will of the voters. If Trump succeeds in convincing Michigan’s state board of canvassers not to certify Biden’s victory in the state, state lawmakers could be called on to select electors, but such a brazen move would be unprecedented and possibly illegal. It would be certain to draw a swift legal challenge.

Both Shirkey and Chatfield have indicated that they will not try to overturn Biden’s win.

“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,” Shirkey’s spokeswoman said last week. On Nov. 6, Chatfield tweeted: “Whoever gets the most votes will win Michigan! Period. End of story. Then we move on.

A Constitutional law professor from the University of Michigan wrote a piece in Politico that says, by taking this meeting, these guys are taking a huge risk by taking this meeting with Trump.

The scheduled meeting threatens two kinds of danger. At the largest level, it threatens the system of democratic presidential elections: If state officials start claiming the right to overturn elections because of vague claims about “fraud,” our democratic system will be unworkable. But in a more specific and immediate way, it threatens the two Michigan legislators, personally, with the risk of criminal investigation.

So, any chance these guys are there to look Trump in the eye and ask that he concede and end this nonsensical attempt at a coup?

If they have any sense of honor and decency, and place any value on democracy in the United States, this is exactly what they should do.

I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.

Obviously I hope this fails, and I hope this blows up in the face of everyone who is even contemplating going along with this coup. But what is the criminal statute that Shirkey and Chatfield might be violating by either taking the meeting, or attempting to pass legislation to award Michigan’s electors differently than the outcome of the election?

In the latter case, they run up against Federal statute that says the method of choosing electors cannot be changed after the election.

Of course, SCOTUS could rule that law unconstitutional (though it seems unlikely given the time frame involved). Or they could take a “So? Whattya gonna do about it?” stance. That may depend on the level of pressure or inducement CFSG brings to bear.

Is that a criminal statute?

I think we found the election fraud.

Well, I think the claim being made was that Trump is likely to bribe them (i.e. pass legislation changing how the electors are appointed and I will make you Ambassador or something) because that’s just the kind of guy he is. I think that’s a pretty big stretch, honestly, but that’s the only truly criminal liability I could see them being open to.

It’s really more of a situation where they are now very much on notice that any action they do or don’t take will be seen as in support of or opposed to Donald Trump. I don’t really understand why they would want to be in that position unless (a) they want to make a direct stand against Trump (unlikely) or (b) they feel that their political futures depend on aligning themselves more strongly in support of Trump.

I think it might be the kind of thing where it’s not a good idea for say, the CEOs of two companies in a oligopoly to meet behind closed doors with no lawyers, because you really open yourself up to charges of collusion if events afterward suggest it.

Good question. I’ve seen/heard it referred to a number of times — starting on election night — but I can’t seem to find the statute itself. Perhaps someone with better search-fu will have better luck.

Hopeful quote from here:

But a Michigan Republican leader close to both Shirkey and state House Speaker Lee Chatfield, who also was invited by Trump to the meeting, told NBC News that both men expect the president to pressure them to try to reverse Biden’s win in their state.
But the leader also said that while the men plan to tell Trump they will pursue his expected claims of irregularities and fraud in the votes in Detroit, they will uphold Michigan law and not reverse the state’s expected certification of the results showing a win for Biden.

“Legally, they don’t think they have any actual legal options. It legally cannot happen in Michigan. That’s what they’re going to tell the president,” the leader said.

Even if Trump could get Michigan’s legislature to overturn, that wouldn’t be enough to get Biden below 270. Trump needs MI, PA and some other state to join in. It’s too long a shot.

But if this happened, you’d probably see me in the streets with a torch and pitchfork in-hand. This would be an absolutely theft of my and millions of other peoples’ votes. I don’t care if Biden ultimately gets sworn in in January.

These guys would also have to face the consequences at some point. If a nationwide coup succeeded , they’d be safe for a while, but if it doesn’t suceeded and the US gets back to ‘normal’, they would face the law at some point and they know it.

Perhaps someone will record more quid pro quo.

The Electoral Count Act, or more specifically now 3 US Code 1-15. The relevant part is 3 U.S. Code § 1 - Time of appointing electors:

The electors of President and Vice President shall be appointed, in each[ State,] on the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November, in every fourth year succeeding every election of a President and Vice President.

It’s a bit more complicated than this, in terms of what that actually means for what’s going on right now, and what happens when Trump does all the things he’s currently doing. But at least as far as some ad hoc attempt to rewrite state law for appointing electors, this is where it runs afoul of federal law. It’s not a criminal statute.

I don’t think that is creating a crime. If upheld, it means that any action to reappoint its electors by the Michigan legislature would be invalid, but it wouldn’t be criminal for them to try to pass such a law. Anyway, IANAL, so it’s very possible I’m wrong.

I think the hope is that if they can crack Michigan, it creates momentum to crack Pennsylvania as well. I can imagine the pressure on PA lawmakers would be intense in that scenario. Now, that sill only gets Biden down to 270, but you’re one unfaithful elector away from sending it to the House at that point.

No, it’s not a crime.

Wouldn’t it be great if these two Republicans return after their Trump meeting, and say something along the lines of:

“Mr. Trump threatened to damage us personally if we did not illegally award the state’s electors to him. He also promised to reward us with money and favors if we did. We have this recorded and will be forwarding this recording to prosecutors.”

This is the kind of crap that term limits gives you. With two term limits in the state legislature, the leaders are going to be sophomores. Fifty years ago the Senate majority leader and House speaker would have been 20+ year veterans of the chamber and would feel much more empowered to stand up to a lawless “president”.

Per NBC, Georgia has officially certified its votes in favor of Biden.