As Biden defeats Trump, GOP launches inquiry into Michigan election

(Shutterstock photo by Matt Smith Photographer)

LANSING—In a rare weekend meeting, amid President Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud, Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature on Saturday used unprecedented subpoena power to demand expansive records from the state’s Nov. 3 election. 

The action capped a whirlwind election week in Michigan and occurred at almost the exact moment The Associated Press declared Democrat Joe Biden the winner of the national race. Biden won Michigan by nearly 150,000 votes, according to unofficial results, but Trump has falsely claimed he carried the battleground state. 

As part of a new inquiry into the election, the GOP’s legislative subpoenas seek state records on absentee ballot applications, postcards and voter registration encouragement letters sent to Michiganders by Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, who spent months encouraging mail-in voting amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Legislature also plans to issue subpoenas for records from Detroit and Antrim County.

Democrats called the probe an attempt to undermine confidence in the democratic process, but Republicans argued that additional oversight could actually help boost public confidence in the results and ensure future elections run more smoothly. 

“I want to assure all concerned the premise of these hearings is not to overturn the will of the people of this state, and not to overturn right and fair and honest elections,” said Senate Oversight Chair Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan. “The public right now is at a fever pitch of interest, and the opportunity we have to do our jobs, our very legitimate jobs, I don’t think could ever be more intensely needed.”

In interviews with Bridge Michigan, longtime Capitol observers could not recall the Legislature ever using subpoena power of this kind: Not when Flint residents were exposed to toxic water, not when the state’s unemployment insurance agency falsely accused tens of thousands of residents of fraud and not when Trump won the state by just 10,704 votes in 2016.

“I don’t think the Legislature has issued subpoenas on any subject, any issue, that I can think of, certainly not under the current Constitution” adopted in 1963, said Bill Ballenger, who served as a Republican in the state Legislature from 1969-1974 before starting a political newsletter.

“Perhaps before my time, but I can’t remember a time,” said Bob LaBrant, a retired GOP attorney who served as the Michigan Chamber of Commerce’s legal counsel from 1978 to 2012.

Biden’s unofficial margin in Michigan of 146,119 votes is a “huge” number that Republicans are unlikely to overcome, even if they do invalidate some Democratic votes through legal challenges or other means, LaBrant said. 

He noted that House Republicans will return their 58-52 majority to Lansing next term based on outcomes from the very voting system they are now scrutinizing. GOP candidates also won three statewide positions for educational governing boards and protected all seven of the party’s congressional seats. 

“If the Democrats were engaged in wholesale voter fraud, they sure did a pretty lousy job,” said LaBrant, a Republican who opposed Trump’s re-election. “I think it’s a scurrilous charge that somehow there was corruption.” 

Legislative Republicans did not make any new accusations in Saturday’s hearing, but they echoed concerns over transparency during absentee ballot vote counting at the TCF Center in Detroit, where officials temporarily restricted new poll challengers from entering a room they said was already packed with partisans from both sides.

GOP legislators argued they have a responsibility to probe the various claims and rumors about the Michigan election, many of them perpetuated by Trump and Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel

House Oversight Chair Matt Hall, R-Marshall, said he has received “hundreds and hundreds” of phone calls and emails from people with questions or complaints about the Michigan election. 

“I think part of the healing process is to go through these things, to, you know, debunk things that aren’t true and look into the process to make sure that people of this state can feel comfortable that this was a fair process where legal votes were counted only,” he said. 

But Democrats blasted Republicans for holding the hearing at such a charged time. As they met at the Boji Tower in downtown Lansing, Trump supporters held a “stop the steal” rally across the street at the Michigan Capitol, and some circled the building in cars, honking horns. 

“This is nothing more than political theater” to “call into question our election,” said Rep. Cynthia Johnson, D-Detroit.“And based on what? A president who constantly lies… This is crazy. And we should not allow it. None of us.”

Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel said on social media that she was “disgusted” by what she called “sham legislative hearings designed to impugn the integrity of our elections.” But, Nessel added, she looks forward to Michigan election officials and “actual experts schooling this committee on the security of our election process.”

Benson had released a lengthy statement Friday disputing GOP claims and providing explanations for the handful of clerical errors and irregularities that were fixed.

Benson spokesperson Jake Rollow said Saturday “Michigan’s election was conducted fairly, accurately and transparently, and the results reflect the will of Michigan voters,” and noting Benson had publicly announced the absentee ballot applications, reminder postcards and voter registration mailings the Legislature is now seeking information about. 

“The Michigan Department of State has provided accurate information throughout to inform voters of their rights and correct the misinformation that seeks to confuse voters and tear down our democracy. We hope such activities will now stop so that our state and nation can begin to heal its divisions and move forward.”

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Just sayin'
Sat, 11/07/2020 - 1:13pm

FOX News called the election: Biden WON!

Where are all the fiscal conservatives? Should we waste time and money on a lame duck who lost by 150,000 votes when that same person won four years ago with only 11,000 votes???

Ronna, YOU'RE FIRED! Trump, YOU'RE FIRED! Oh that felt good to type. Bye bye Chatfield, good riddance.

Sat, 11/07/2020 - 7:03pm

Dear Santa,
All I want for Christmas is sane legislators.
Thank you.

John M
Sun, 11/08/2020 - 5:28pm

Dear Baby Jesus,
I agree with Wayne. Amen

Sun, 11/08/2020 - 2:37pm

It seems when you get the numbers you want you lose interested in the screw-ups of the process. As I recall even, Bridge reported, it took a Court order for the City of Detroit to process/deliver all the requested ballots.
If I were a Detroiter, I surely would want to know why all Detroit residents' requests for ballots was not being honored by the City, why the Clerk didn't seem to deem that a priority or why the Mayor seemed to not see an importance in lack of Constitutional service to City voters.
You might be a 'Progressives' since you only care about getting your way and forgetting about the process and the rights of others.
Do you live their life through what they see on TV? The reality is that President Trump was not 'fired', his was not given a contract four more years. My question is whether President elect Biden will be allowed to fulfill his contract before the Democrats and Vice President Elect void that contract and replace him in the office of the President.

Three strikes
Tue, 11/10/2020 - 2:58am

Trump was fired as president twice. Once he was impeached by our representatives, then by We the People. He will forever be known as a "one term president" who was impeached. Oh and his dream of having his face carved on Mt Rushmore not looking good.

Fri, 11/13/2020 - 11:50am

Wrong, just like a Democrat/Liberal/Progressive, distorting to fit their desired narrative.
The fact is that each President is awarded a four year contract for services, and is allowed to apply for a second contract. So to be accurate [something you and the media seem to try to distance yourself from to fit when wanting to belittle a person, much like Hillary calling those not supporting her as 'deplorables' or former President Obama calling us 'clingers'. President Trump wasn't fired, his contract was ending [by law] and a new one hasn't been awarded by the populace.
Well he many not get his face on Mount Rushmore, but he did get nominations [by foreign nations] for a Nobel Peace prize for what he did not who he is [what did former President Obama do for his nomination in the first few months of his Presidency?].
As for the impeachment, that was simply another partisan attempt to overturn the 2016 legitimate election.
If I would not be surprised if Biden did not fulfill the 4 year contract for the Presidency when the Democrats [around him] invoke the 25th Amendment [something they were promoting for Trump since 2017].

Sat, 11/14/2020 - 2:47pm


Oh happy day!
Sat, 11/07/2020 - 1:16pm

Imagine an uphill battle carrying the weight of Trump. Then ask yourself, is it worth it?

Sat, 11/07/2020 - 1:54pm

What a bunch of drama queen a-holes ! When the new districts are drawn up, most of them will be voted out.

Sun, 11/08/2020 - 5:29pm

From your keyboard to God's ears.

Charlie Day
Sat, 11/07/2020 - 3:21pm

There hasn't been any defeat, no states have certified anyone as the winner yet, and we know that we had malfunctioning ballot machines in at least 47 counties in this state, and the same machines were in all of the swing states. This is far from over. Grab your popcorn and make sure you have a good stock of toilet paper - My bet is that the furor of the Right, in a stolen election (I am a democrat, not a liberal, and I truly believe there was massive fraud in this election), will be far worse than the BLM and antifa people burning, looting and killing in the cities. Remember where our food comes from, people - It comes from the country. Don't piss these people off! Wait for the recounts and verification of ballot machine counts vs. actual counts!

Sgt. Pepper
Sat, 11/07/2020 - 7:06pm

Your choice to ignore reality baffles me. And I am a Republican.

Charlie Day
Sun, 11/08/2020 - 12:08pm

Were you not around in 2000 when the media declared Al Gore winner? We are a families, we do not consider ourselves liberal, though. We are shocked and saddened by the contrast between the 2016 election (media screaming fraud and ballot machine hacking on every site) vs now (not a word of it, facebook and twitter censoring mention of it, despite strong evidence of significant fraud in multiple states, not to mention the mass use of mail-in voting which could still be found to be illegal by supreme court due to how close to the election it was implemented).
You are on the wrong side of history here. Remember, the German party that led to the rise of the Third Reich considered themselves conservatives, too. You need to take a step back and look at this situation rationally. We are looking at months of court battles and we still believe Trump has this one simply based on the evidence on Hunter Biden's laptop. The Russia Collusion story was a hoax... But the Joe Biden China collusion story is not.
Just based on Biden's "gun control" plan, any rational person should be terrified of him in the white house - The plans as laid out on his website would result in an immediate revolution/civil war. It is chilling. Read it.

Tue, 11/10/2020 - 7:19am

"You need to take a step back and look at this situation rationally."

::Proceeds to discuss irrational and baseless conspiracy theories about the Bidens::

Sun, 11/08/2020 - 5:31pm

Never mind Charley. He's Q-Anon.

Sat, 11/07/2020 - 7:42pm

Do you really think that the people from the country (Trump supporters) are not going to sell their product just to spite the Democrats, especially during COVID? They have to make a living too. I don't believe this is a stolen election, a lot more people have voted this year and Trump is a sore loser. You are right, this is far from over, we will have to wait for confirmation from all the states and go through the process of verification because Trump will never accept defeat. And he will do as he has multiple times this year, encourage the country to divide and cause havoc and continue to lie. It is truly sad that people believe everything that comes out of his mouth.

Sorry Charlie
Sat, 11/07/2020 - 8:40pm

Don't piss these people off!

They have no problem pissing others off. And what is making them mad? Losing an election? If you are so worried about them not supplying cities with food, where do these rural farmers get ALL of their supplies, equipment, gasoline and oil from? I think we have enough to leverage. Can't make food nowadays without gas and a computer program.

Reality check
Tue, 11/10/2020 - 3:10am

Charlie is so ignorant that he doesn't realize that there are urban farms in Detroit and that much of our food comes from abroad. He also doesn't realize that American farmers are heavily subsidized, you know "welfare". Lastly he seems to think farmers can live well without selling their produce to people with money.

Jim tomlinson
Sun, 11/08/2020 - 12:46am

47? Sorry man don’t believe it. Could it be ... wait for it ..... fake gop news?

Sun, 11/08/2020 - 7:07am

There are some pretty dark holes in the internet. Charlie, you really need to get outside and get some sunshine. Just about all of that is simply unhinged.

Sun, 11/08/2020 - 8:41am

I read 7 comments, all very happy and positive to Biden a new fresh beginning with a modicum of intelligence, thank you. Our country is now on the right track. No more Trump and his whiny excuses and blaming every one and thing in sight for his own total inept incompetence. Charlie Day, you sir are not a Democrat in any sort of way. Massive fraud really??? You sound like your cult leader Trump. He is now the loser, get over it and cut the whining out today. Oh it was your GOP who refused funding to upgrade these voting machines you spoke of, sorry about that funding lapse. Wait for certified results they will have the same results as in the past. Quit malfunctioning, Charlie it is over now Biden has won the vote of the people.

lawn order
Sat, 11/07/2020 - 4:06pm

I wonder if dems should treat these subpoenas from the party of "law and order" the same way the party of "law and order" treated subpoenas from the House of Representatives of the United States?

Charlie Day
Sun, 11/08/2020 - 12:13pm

I believe that the right should go after the voter fraud/legal ballot verification as hard and long as the left (and media) went after the Russia Collusion hoax. Realize that pushing the Russia hoax that far (even using Mueller and the FBI as a pawn in the game) has energized the Right to a level which will drive Trump's legacy for the next decade, president or not. I truly believe he is the first actual human to run for president since I was a child. The bushes, the clintons, the obamas were all war-mongering elitists who said one thing and did another. Trump says one thing and does it. The reason people do not like him is because they are emotionally immature, and the truth hurts people like that. They need to grow up. Far too many people making it into adulthood with a child's emotions nowadays - It looks like nearly half of the country sometimes.

sorry charlie
Mon, 11/09/2020 - 9:02pm

But the right HAS been going after voter fraud for longer than you can remember! Think back to Alberto Gonzalaz. US AG who fire a whole slew of US Attorneys because they couldn't cook up voter fraud in 2006.

Why did pushing the Russia hoax make conservatives mad? Do they not know Maria Butina? A LOT of people at the NRA do. Paul Manafort was in jail/may still be in part for passing voting information to a pro Russian Ukrainian oligarch.

The only people that have childs emotions are those that want to pick up weapons and start something they will regret.

If you want to tie yourself to Trump? Have at it. He is your golden calf.

boo hoo
Tue, 11/10/2020 - 3:16am

Sure, Charlie, but you realize Trump was president during that whole time, right? Biden will be president and the right can keep crying.

"I truly believe he is the first actual human to run for president since I was a child."

Your comments are ridiculous. Your posts speak for themselves. You need a nap or something.

Charlie Day
Wed, 11/11/2020 - 4:15pm

I can not make sense of your comment, but you realize I'm a democrat, right? Born and raised and not ever going to call myself a republican, and my wife/kids who are old enough to vote feel the same.
We feel totally isolated and left behind by more than half of our party. Our party has been hijacked by emotional, angry, and in my opinion psychotic people who hate opinions different than their own.

If you read American history you will see that while republicans and democrats, or let's call it the right and the left, have always disagreed on things, historically they have more or less always worked well together. Now both parties are being derailed by these emotionally immature crazy people who can't stomach the idea of differing opinions, and who also seem to believe that opinions different than their own should be stamped out, de-funded, canceled, whatever. They use all sorts of crazy justification for this including pointing to "experts" and believing in the words of these "experts" in the same way that peasants believed in the words catholic bishops during the dark ages.

The unfortunate reality is that our party now has FAR more of these people than the republican party.

Historically, it was fringe groups such as the KKK and branch davidians that were supposedly "right", and on the left we had people like the unabomber, weather underground, etc. Now our party is just chock full of these crazy people while the right has more or less remained constant, or even gotten smaller as population increases.
We need to push all the crazies into their own group - In my opinion, there is not a right and a left, there is a circle, democrats on the left side of this circle, republicans on the right, moderates/undecideds down at the bottom, and at the top where the two ends of the circle meet are all the crazies - KKK, BLM, Antifa, SPLC, ACLU, Westboro baptist church, neo nazis, all "social justice warriors", people who believe in "experts", etc. They have always been right next to each other in the circle, and it's time to push them all into their own little party. Then maybe the rest of us can come together.

Just one final comment and that is just regarding how nice all of my Trump supporting coworkers and neighbors are. If you watch the news and believed it, you would think that Trump supporters are foaming-at-the-mouth racist militia members who think the earth is flat. In reality, they are no different than any other normal person we know, and quite frankly they seem to be more personable to me since they are much harder to offend and are always willing to debate in a rational, polite manner which really pleases me.

Sun, 11/08/2020 - 5:32pm

Yes, optional.

Sun, 11/08/2020 - 1:37am

Well if this actually holds up we need to start the impeachment proceedings. Then we can start looting, burning this country down starting with the halls of congress with them in session. The lame a$$ democrats stile this election. May they all rot in hell.

Civics lesson
Tue, 11/10/2020 - 3:17am

Um, you don't control the house.

Sun, 11/08/2020 - 4:24am

Time for self reflection maybe? As in how could so many people have voted for an outright racist candidate who has bungled our national pandemic response and is directly responsible for widespread illness and death throughout our great nation. And our right wing state legislature is orchestrating a pathetic courtroom challenge to subvert the will of the people? Time to crawl back under the woodwork. THE AMERICAN PEOPLE have spoken!

Sun, 11/08/2020 - 7:47am

The irony here is that those of us who voted, in this free and fair election, to hire a new president, may need that same "stop the steal" slogan to shut down our own legislature playing games. Someone should remind them that Biden won many more votes here and enough other states to win without Michigan. Do they really want to be the only fascist cronies trying to break our democracy? Stand down people - Biden won fair and square. Worry about your jobs when the redistricting commission gets rid of half your gerrymandered seats.

GOP in Michigan
Tue, 11/10/2020 - 3:20am

They did fight gay marriage even when it was the law throughout the country. When they say "law and order", they mean dictatorship.

We the People
Tue, 11/10/2020 - 3:23am

Yes, we voted legally absentee and when it came time to count our absentee votes, trump screamed "Stop the count". WTF?

Sun, 11/08/2020 - 9:16am

Why do they feel justified to single out this election to perform an inquiry?? What are their agendas? Is it to delegitimize this election because they have zero chances to gerrymander in the next Census ? Are they scared that they will lose seats in 2021 and possibly beyond? They should be scared... however they shouldn't use our Michigan legislation as revenge porn to boost their egos. Deal with it, snowflakes and move on. We Michiganers have spoken, and we choose President-Elect Biden and Vp- Elect Harris as our next leader. A sane leader who knows how to lead...and with style.

George Hagenauer
Sun, 11/08/2020 - 9:48am

I am not sure the way to broaden their support is for the Republican party to become even more the party of suppressing and discouraging people from voting. There are people within the party as well as in the general population who find that strategy to be appalling.

The Truth
Wed, 11/11/2020 - 2:58am

Dirty GOP secret is not so secret. Voter suppression has been the GOP strategy forever, starting when they were the dixiecrats and most notably during the Reagan era.

Paul Michael Weyrich was an American religious conservative political activist and commentator, most notable as a figurehead of the New Right. He co-founded the conservative think tanks The Heritage Foundation, the Free Congress Foundation, and the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Paul Weyrich famously said - "I don't want everybody to vote" (Goo Goo) because when they to, Republicans lose:

Sun, 11/08/2020 - 1:58pm

Remember, it is not the Associated Press, or CNN, or Bridge, or the New York Times that decides the results of an election. There is a process in place and it may well be into December before we know who won.

Justice Alito has already ordered certain PA ballots to be sequestered. It may well be that he understands the Constitution better than all of us. Article 2, Section 1 states that it is the legislature in each state that decides how electors are chosen. Not the governor, and not the Secretary of State, not the attorney general, not the election board, and not any state or federal judge that Can change the rules, but only the legislature. He may be lining up the order that a number of ballots are invalidated.

Mon, 11/09/2020 - 8:36pm

Article 2, Section 1 states that it is the legislature in each state that decides how electors are chosen. Not the governor, and not the Secretary of State, not the attorney general, not the election board, and not any state or federal judge that Can change the rules, but only the legislature

Tell us Arjay, is this how Government Of the People, By the People and For the People dies? By using quaint rules to subvert the will of those who will be governed? This is where you have to come to terms with majority rule. It's not mob rule.

It's democratic Republicanism. Unless you prefer autocrats, oligarchs or dictators. Those are all a form Republicanism too.

Voters decide
Tue, 11/10/2020 - 3:30am

Laughable. Arjay you know that that will never happen. Do you realize the military votes coming in from overseas are predominantly for Biden? They are not fighting there to install a dictatorship here at home. This still is America and we should not default to slavery era rules when only white protestant men who owned property could vote. When we fix the gerrymandering problem, you will see what a democracy looks like. It will bother you because everyone will have a say and majority will rule.

Sun, 11/08/2020 - 5:26pm

If we stole the election for Biden, why didn't we steal the senate too?

Tue, 11/10/2020 - 3:31am

Exactly, because nothing was stolen.

Sun, 11/08/2020 - 6:23pm

Chatfield is Trump's lapdog.

trump america
Mon, 11/09/2020 - 9:59am

Trump with his 89 million twitter followers will retain power over the GOP whether or not he is president. Just look at Graham, Shirkey, Chatfield. They all fear the wrath of Trump and his ability to cull his extremely loyal supporters.

We Did It, Joe!
Mon, 11/09/2020 - 10:50am

It's over and it wasn't even close.

Mon, 11/09/2020 - 1:11pm

In America throngs of people danced cheered and partied across our beautiful country to celebrate and honor the victory of Biden.
In Paris they rang church bells across the city to celebrate and honor the victory of Biden.
In London they displayed fireworks across the city to celebrate and honor the victory of Biden.

Never saw such gratitude across the world. It's like it was at the end of WW2.

Thu, 11/12/2020 - 12:37pm

Sure their celebrating, they now have someone who will do whatever others [such as every head of each country around the world, start with China, Russia, maybe not the Ukraine, everyone in Europe but not the U K, Iran, Iraq, probably not Israel, UAE, Saudi Arabia, you know the list].
Think of how before Trump the French, Germans, etc. were meeting their obligations to being part of NATO, how the 'Paris accord was only demanding money from the US and letting the worst polluters [China, India, etc.] to continue to pollute as they have always done. It was like at the end of WWII, they rest of the world survived and prospered on the hard work and sacrifice of Americans and you seem to feel we should being doing that for them even times of their abundance.
Why would they be ringing bells, and cheering, they will no longer have to be responsible, they can get back to blaming the US and demanding more money [maybe have pay a little to Hunter to get time on the 'big guy's' dining agenda.
I doubt you're right about the "American throngs' dancing in the streets, it seems all of those [violent] 'protesters' in Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, etc. have packed up and gone home [money must have run out], didn't see it on CNN, MSNBC, and NPR,
The 'celebrations' remind me of students no longer being responsible for their learning, how they cheer for no more homework, but those that who stayed in school have to pay for those who didn't study and learn. Are you one of those who never was held accountable for your learning, your actions, your word/commitments, and always blamed you disappointments on others?

Tue, 11/10/2020 - 9:14am

Stalin said that it isn't important who votes. What's important is who COUNTS the votes. Why were windows covered in the ballot counting area? If you have nothing to hide nothing! Prove that the counting was legit in all states and we'll move on in our stages of grief!

Eyes Roll
Wed, 11/11/2020 - 3:05am

Hogwash! There were streaming cameras like in a casino. If anything, with Trump caging children where some died and were raped, he seems like Stalin. He wanted to stop the COUNT of votes. So you are right in part.