The two top Republican officials in the Michigan state legislature on Monday made clear the state would not award its electors to President Trump as tensions bubble in the state ahead of its formal Electoral College vote.
State Senate majority leader Mike Shirkey (R) and House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R) issued separate statements on Monday making clear the legislature would not appoint electors that undercut the state's popular vote, which Joe Biden won by nearly 140,000 votes. The statements came as Michigan closed its legislative office buildings on Monday due to credible threats of violence.
"Michigan’s Democratic slate of electors should be able to proceed with their duty, free from threats of violence and intimidation," Shirkey said in a statement. "President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris won Michigan’s presidential election. It is our responsibility as leaders to follow the law and move forward in pursuit of policies that contribute to the betterment of Michigan."
Shirkey credited Trump with shedding light on flaws in the election process that require fixing to avoid voting irregularities. But the state did not uncover fraud at a scale that would change the result, he said.
Chatfield directly addressed the push from Trump and some of his allies for state legislatures to subvert the popular vote results and appoint their own electors to back Trump in the Electoral College. He cited long-standing precedent in Michigan to award Electoral College votes to the popular vote winner, something that was solidified in 2000 by the Supreme Court.
“Again - I fought hard for President Trump. Nobody wanted him to win more than me," Chatfield said. "I think he's done an incredible job. But I love our republic, too. I can't fathom risking our norms, traditions and institutions to pass a resolution retroactively changing the electors for Trump, simply because some think there may have been enough widespread fraud to give him the win.
"That's unprecedented for good reason," he added. "And that’s why there is not enough support in the House to cast a new slate of electors. I fear we'd lose our country forever. This truly would bring mutually assured destruction for every future election in regards to the Electoral College. And I can't stand for that. I won’t."
Both Shirkey and Chatfield met with Trump at the White House last month as the president pressed to overturn the election results.
Electors from every state are meeting on Monday to formally elect Joe Biden as the next president, even as Trump fans conspiracy theories that the election was stolen from him. His repeated claims of fraud, which have not been proven in court or validated by recounts, have led to security concerns in some states where electors are gathering, including in Michigan.
Michigan state Rep. Gary Eisen was rebuked by members of his own party on Monday hours after he made comments suggesting that he and others planned to disrupt the Electoral College vote at the state Capitol in Lansing.