Activists hound Michigan Senate majority leader at airport en route to meet with Trump

Activists confronted Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey at a Detroit airport Friday morning on his way to meet with President Trump.

Videos posted to social media show protesters following Shirkey with signs that read “Democracy is still in the ballots” and “Uphold democracy” as he made his way to security. “Protect our votes!” one protester yelled, starting a chant that was repeated by a number of others.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that Trump had invited Shirkey and Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield for a Friday meeting. The report said that it was “not immediately clear what the meeting would be about,” but it noted that the Trump campaign was “openly floating the notion of trying to get friendly state legislatures to appoint electors who would overturn the will of the voters.”

In a text message to Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson sent while she was giving a live interview on CNN on Friday morning, Chatfield said that he has not confirmed whether he will attend the meeting. A source later told CNN that Chatfield will go to the White House on Friday. Fox News was told both Shirkey and Chatfield will meet with Trump at 4 p.m.

Some analysts have questioned the ethics or legality of such a meeting. Brookings Institution fellow and Lawfare editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes said that accepting the meeting is “a very risky move.”

“Risky in the criminal law sense, not just the political sense,” Wittes added.

Kristen Clarke, the president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, called for the meeting to be canceled, saying that it was “time to respect the will of voters across Michigan and stop the backroom, unethical deals to obstruct our electoral process.”

Michigan is one of the key battleground states that President-elect Joe Biden flipped from Trump’s 2016 win. Once part of the reliably Democratic “blue wall” comprising Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, Michigan is now the focus of one of the Trump campaign’s many lawsuits alleging that widespread voter fraud propelled Biden to victory.

Biden was ahead of Trump in Michigan by more than 140,000 votes with 50.6% of the vote, compared to Trump’s 47.9%. When asked during a recent press call if the campaign realistically thinks that Trump could pull off a win in the Wolverine State given such a large margin, Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh demurred.

Regardless of whether the Trump campaign wins any of the legal battles, the team is “openly floating the notion of trying to get friendly state legislatures to appoint electors who would overturn the will of the voters,” according to the Associated Press. Should Trump’s team convince Michigan’s state board of canvassers not to certify the results of the election, it would fall upon state lawmakers to select electors to cast votes in the Electoral College.

Both Chatfield and Shirkey have previously stated that they did not intend to overturn Biden’s win in the state.

“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. Chatfield tweeted, “Whoever gets the most votes will win Michigan! Period. End of story. Then we move on.”

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