Saturday, November 21, 2020


The president met with a delegaion of Republicans from the Michigan state legislature yesterday. It was clearly an effort to persuade them to overturn the results of the presidential election in their state, but relax, we're being told -- he didn't succeed.
... Michigan Republicans declar[ed] after a White House meeting that they had learned nothing to warrant reversing the outcome in their state.

“We will follow the law and follow the normal process regarding Michigan’s electors, just as we have said throughout this election,” Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R) and Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield (R) said in a joint statement issued late Friday.

... even after a personal invitation to the White House by the president, the state’s top two GOP lawmakers notably did not endorse his baseless claims of widespread fraud in the state and instead said they used the meeting to press Trump for more coronavirus relief funds.
That's the mainstream narrative now: Not only did the Republicans not agree to what Trump wants, they used the meeting to press their agenda, which is more pandemic aid to the state.

Josh Marshall is not so sure about that narrative:
For what it’s worth, people I’ve spoken to in Michigan appear to see this as a bit more equivocal than it is being received in the national press. And they know these folks best. So perhaps it’s a bit more fuzzy than it seems.

The state Attorney General has made pretty clear that she saw and sees this meeting as the potential setting of a criminal conspiracy, if the President suggests a corrupt bargain to violate Michigan law by throwing out the results of an election. In this case, putting COVID relief at the center of the discussion seems less like a rebuke of Trump than setting up a non-corrupt set of facts to ward off potential prosecution.

... We’ve seen quite enough about how President Trump acts and talks in these situations. It’s more or less a replay of the “perfect call” Trump had with President Zelensky that got him impeached.
In other words, "I want you to do me a favor, though...."

The AG is warning that officials who respond to Trump's pressure tactics could be brought up on charges:
Michigan’s attorney general is exploring whether officials risk committing crimes if they bend to President Trump’s wishes in seeking to block the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in their state, according to two people familiar with the review.

The move by Dana Nessel, a Democrat, reflected a growing sense of unease among many in her party and some Republicans that the president was continuing his unprecedented efforts to reach personally into the state’s electoral process....

In the past week, Trump and his allies have shifted their efforts to attempting to block the certification of results in several states, including Michigan.

That included Trump speaking by phone Tuesday with Monica Palmer, a member of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, after she and her Republican colleague William Hartmann reluctantly agreed to certify the county’s election tally. After the call, the next day, she and Hartmann reversed course, seeking to rescind their vote to certify. The Michigan secretary of state’s office, which oversees elections, said Thursday that there is no legal mechanism for Palmer and Hartmann to do so.
But Michigan officials from both parties are seeking pandemic aid from the federal government, even though they're not quite in sync:
In stating they focused on requests for additional COVID-19 assistance, the [Republican] leaders echoed a call made earlier this week from [Democratic] Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. On Thursday, Whitmer said she sent a letter to Trump and federal legislative leaders asking for additional federal aid for unemployment benefits and small business relief.

She said she asked the Republican legislative leaders to sign onto the letter but they declined. In their own letter, Republican leaders said "we feel it is important to represent our position distinctly from the governor's."

The letter Chatfield and Shirkey sent to the president and federal legislative leaders on Friday is largely the same as the one Whitmer and Michigan Democratic legislative leaders sent to the same federal lawmakers the day before.
So because of tensions between the parties, the Republican delegation to the White House meeting didn't work with the Democratic governor on this request for aid -- but the two requests were essentially identical.

But it could still be a quid pro quo if the Republicans can say they succeeded in obtaining the aid where Whitmer failed, as they help Trump flip the state.

Also, this seems a tad problematic:

I don't believe Trump will succeed in overturning the results of this election, but he's going to work every angle until there are no angles left to work. I think Joe Biden will be inaugurated on January 20, but I also think it's quite likely that he won't receive the electoral votes from at least one state he won.

And even after that happens, we'll conclude that democracy got off easy, and that it's just too difficult to fight a Republican Party that's unyielding and that will stop at nothing to try to win. And we'll just move on.

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