Team Trump drops Michigan lawsuit


Has Team Trump thrown in the towel over Wayne County? The campaign has withdrawn its lawsuit over the certification of election results in Michigan’s most populous county, the only chance — microscopic as it was — for overturning Donald Trump’s loss in the state. However, the statement this morning from Rudy Giuliani claims to have stopped the county’s certification, when in fact it took place two days ago:

President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign said on Thursday it was withdrawing its lawsuit disputing vote results in Michigan, in another faltering legal attempt to challenge the Nov. 3 victory of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden.

“This morning we are withdrawing our lawsuit in Michigan as a direct result of achieving the relief we sought: to stop the election in Wayne County from being prematurely certified before residents can be assured that every legal vote has been counted and every illegal vote has not been counted,” Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said in a statement.

Er … what? The results got certified at the last minute in Wayne County in a dramatic standoff between the commissioners responsible for the decision. The two later claimed to rescind those votes, but there is no mechanism for reversing a certification, especially after the deadline. The state Board of Canvassers have to accept the submission, too, although the legislature still has authority at any time to investigate the process. The GOP leadership has pledged to do that, but they have also made it clear that they’re not going to change electors and void the popular vote results, not with a 154,000-vote gap between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

The Free Press is mystified by the explanation:

The campaign for President Donald Trump withdrew a much ballyhooed federal lawsuit on Thursday, incorrectly characterizing the actions of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers as its rationale for the decision.

The campaign championed the suit when it was filed last week, with surrogates speaking on national television about the more than 100 affidavits from Republican poll challengers and others included in the lawsuit. …

But in a new filing Thursday, campaign attorney Thor Hearne states the campaign decided not to pursue the lawsuit because two members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers do not want to certify the county’s election results.

“The Wayne County board of county canvassers met and declined to certify the results of the presidential election,” the three-sentence filing states. …

The statement and legal filing are inaccurate. Although the four-member board initially deadlocked 2-2 on a vote to certify, the two Republican members eventually agreed to vote to certify the results. Certification of county results is a necessary step in the process to formalize final vote tallies in Michigan elections.

CNN points out the bald misstatement too:

In its filing, the campaign misrepresented the sequence of events surrounding the vote certification out of Wayne County, which was finalized Tuesday night. While the Wayne County Board of Canvassers initially deadlocked 2-2 on whether to certify the results, the four member board eventually unanimously agreed to certify the presidential race for Joe Biden.

Thursday morning’s filing wrongly claims that the Wayne County board “declined to certify the results of the presidential election.” Attached to the filing are affidavits from the two Republican board members who now claim that they were bullied into siding with the Democrats and want to now rescind their votes to certify.

But certification will move forward with the Board of State Canvassers set to meet on Nov. 23 to complete the final step of certifying the state’s votes for Biden.

If Team Trump doesn’t refile this complaint, it goes a long way to undermining their claims of a rigged election in Detroit. Certification in most states is a necessary step for legal challenges, so this is when a lawsuit would make more sense, not less. It sounds as though the Trump campaign has assessed its complaint and their evidence and recognizes that they don’t actually have a case — or at least one they can present in good faith in court.

Maybe that’s why Trump called one of the two canvassers immediately after the meeting, although it’s just as possible that he was truly concerned for their well-being. It does at least raise the possibility that he was hoping to change their minds, but Monica Palmer says it never came up in the conversation:

President Trump called a GOP canvassing board member in Wayne County who announced Wednesday she wanted to rescind her decision to certify the results of the presidential election, the member said in a message to The Washington Post Thursday.

“I did receive a call from President Trump, late Tuesday evening, after the meeting,” Monica Palmer, one of two Republican members of the four-member Wayne County canvassing board, told The Post. “He was checking in to make sure I was safe after hearing the threats and doxing that had occurred.” …

In an interview, Palmer estimated that she talked with Trump for about two minutes Tuesday. She said she felt no pressure to change her vote. Palmer has said she received messages threatening her and her family during and after the Tuesday tense meeting.

“His concern was about my safety and that was really touching. He is a really busy guy and to have his concern about my safety was appreciated,” she told The Post.

Was this an attempt to influence the canvassers? YMMV, but bear this in mind — when Trump made the call, the issue was already moot. The certification decision is final and the deadline passed after the meeting had concluded. There was nothing more to influence, except for potential PR moves.

If Team Trump really thought that the discrepancies in Wayne County were significant enough to challenge the election results, they’d be doubling down now rather than withdrawing. This move makes it look like they know they can’t sustain their public-relations argument in good-faith submissions in court. That’s why it pays to wait and see what claims are lodged and defended in court rather than rely on statements from campaign flacks.

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