Republicans largely quiet as Trump claims fraud, falsely says he won Michigan

Joe Biden beat Donald Trump by nearly 150,000 votes in Michigan, according to unofficial results from all 83 counties, but Trump said he won the state. (Shutterstock)

LANSING — President Donald Trump’s unproven claims of corruption and voter fraud in Detroit were condemned by Michigan Democrats but prompted little response from Republican leaders, who have generally stayed quiet as the president questions the legitimacy of the nation’s election system.

Trump, in a Thursday evening address from the White House, called Detroit and Philadelphia “two of the most corrupt political places in the county” and suggested officials in the two Democratic cities were “engineering the outcome of the presidential race.”

He offered no evidence of voter fraud in either of the two Democratic strongholds, where a flood of absentee ballots that took longer to count than in-person votes heavily favored Democrat Joe Biden. 

Biden beat Trump by nearly 150,000 votes in Michigan, according to unofficial results from all 83 counties, but Trump said he won the state.

U.S. Rep. Paul Mitchell, who is retiring at the end of the year, was one of the few Michigan Republicans to speak up and challenge the president. 

“If anyone has proof of wrongdoing, it should be presented and resolved,” Mitchell, R-Dryden, wrote on Twitter. “Anything less harms the integrity of our elections and is dangerous for our democracy.”

During his address, Trump cited allegations from a lawsuit that unsuccessfully sought to stop the Detroit count. He alleged workers were duplicating ballots (a common practice to replace damaged ballots before they’re counted by a tabulator machine) and that GOP challengers were blocked from observing that process. 

Trump’s campaign had filed a separate lawsuit seeking to halt the statewide count, but that case was dismissed earlier Thursday by a judge who said it was based on hearsay and no evidence.

Chris Thomas, a former state elections director who helped oversee Detroit’s count, has called various fraud accusations hollow. Republicans had plenty of challengers inside the TCF Center, where absentee votes were counted, at all times, he said.

“It may be a nice story that makes people feel good in terms of why they may have lost, but the reality is you lost because you didn’t have as many votes as the other person,” Thomas told Bridge earlier Thursday, before Trump’s latest comments. 

After Trump's comments — which television networks stopped airing mid-speech because of accuracy concerns — U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly, called on "Republican elected officials ... to speak out, now, to make clear they will not participate in attempts to thwart the will of the voters. If you remain silent, you are complicit."

While a few national Republicans distanced themselves from Trump's accusations,  the response was far more muted in Michigan.

Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, in a text message to Bridge after Trump’s address, said “concerns over potential voter fraud should be reported and fully investigated.”

“The integrity of our election should be a priority of every citizen,” said Shirkey, R-Clarklake. “We want every legal vote counted.”

He did not reply to a follow-up question about the appropriateness of Trump making his claims without producing evidence.

House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, did not reply to a request for comment. 

State Rep. Aaron Miller, R-Sturgis, had not heard Trump’s comments directly but said he thinks the country is in a “sad point.”

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Miller wrote that he thinks Biden will end up winning enough states to defeat Trump. He offered prayers for Biden but eventually deleted the post after the comments section became divisive.

If there was any impropriety in Detroit or elsewhere, “let’s investigate the crap out it,” Miller told Bridge Michigan on Thursday. But Trump’s comments are “only appropriate if there’s hard evidence, and I just haven’t seen it yet.” 

Without “hard facts, I don’t think it’s helpful, because people listen to Donald Trump, they listen to other political officials, and they’re going to repeat what he said,” Miller said. 

A previous chair of the House Elections and Ethics Committee, Miller noted that Michigan’s election system is run by local clerks in more than 1,500 municipalities. That makes the kind of widespread voter fraud Trump would need to prove to overcome Biden’s 150,000 vote win very difficult. 

“I suppose nothing is foolproof… but to run a multiple hundred thousand vote conspiracy would be almost logistically impossible because of the decentralized nature of the elections,” Miller said. 

Trump’s claims are “patently false” and “unacceptable,” said Sen. Adam Hollier, D-Detroit. 

“What he is saying is, ‘Hey, what I wanted to win. And because Black people in Detroit and because women in the suburbs of Philadelphia are voting for someone else — and mind you they probably voted a month ago — don’t count their votes.”

Detroit’s count took a day to complete because of a flood of absentee ballots, allowed for the first time in a presidential election because of a voter-approved law and heavily utilized because of COVID-19, he said.

Michigan’s GOP-led Legislature approved a law allowing clerks to open outer envelopes a day early, but Hollier noted the majority rejected calls to give additional pre-processing time that could have sped up the count. 

Grand Rapids, a majority white city on the west side of the state, also took well into Wednesday evening to complete its absentee ballot count. 

But the president has not alleged any wrongdoing there. Nor has he alleged wrongdoing in Arizona, where he trails Biden but is narrowing the gap because votes are still being counted.

Detroit “is a dog whistle for Black people who are trying to steal it from them,” Hollier said, referring to how the president and his supporters view the city.

“It’s always been an us-versus-them.  ‘They don’t deserve to decide who elects the president.'”

Hollier said he fears Trump’s comments could incite violence for political gain.

“Real patriots support the system, whether it's win, lose or draw. And folks who want to take up arms to defend this nation sign up like I did and join the military to do so. They don’t take justice into their own hands.”

Jonathan Kinloch, vice chair of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers and head of the 13th Congressional Democratic Party, had not heard Trump’s comments directly. But asked about the president’s claim that Detroit is corrupt and trying to “engineer” the election, Kinloch bristled. 

“He lost the election, and I’m sure it’s quite painful, but he needs to eat his Haagen-Dazs and take a nap,” Kinloch said. “It’s not just Detroit, he’s crying every place where the people have said, ‘get out of office.’ He is attacking the voters. He has never had any type of respect for the democratic process.”

Detroit’s count took a full day because so many voters there chose to cast absentee ballots rather than risk exposure to COVID-19 at polling places, Kinloch said. 

“The pandemic is real to us here in the city of Detroit, so whether he recognizes that or not does not negate the fact that the people of Detroit understood how important this election was.”

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

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Comments

LEGAL VOTER
Thu, 11/05/2020 - 10:48pm

Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, in a text message to Bridge after Trump’s address, said “concerns over potential voter fraud should be reported and fully investigated.”

“The integrity of our election should be a priority of every citizen,” said Shirkey, R-Clarklake. “We want every legal vote counted.”

He did not reply to a follow-up question about the appropriateness of Trump making his claims without producing evidence.
_________________________________________________

What does Leader Shirkey consider the definition of legal? These are the questions one has to ask themselves when dealing with a party that defines truth and law and order, to what they define them as. The press has given them a pass for over 40 years.

Does Websters dictionary mean anything to anyone at all? Or are we able to define words to whatever we get people to understand the definition of?

What is a legal Mr Shirkey? Is the absentee ballot I dropped off at my polling place a legal ballot even though I didn't have to "solicit" my local clerk to send it to me because I am on the permanent absentee ballot list?

Also; https://www.salon.com/2020/11/05/mitch-mcconnell-is-already-preparing-to...

This is conservatives idea of bi-partisan government.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2020/11/04/mcconnell-new-stimul...

Too bad it couldn't have come sooner! WE had to pack the courts first!

Bi partisan government and all!

Get ready Mr Shirkey!! It's Nov 6!! Is the democrat, fake news virus gone yet?

John Q. Public
Thu, 11/05/2020 - 11:21pm

Detroit and Philadelphia may well be "...two of the most corrupt political places in the county (sic)" but there's still no place like Washington D.C.

WWJD?
Fri, 11/06/2020 - 2:11am

God Bless U.S. Rep. Paul Mitchell.
Shirkey, Chatfield not so much. In fact, just the opposite. Shame on you two. Repent and sin no more.

GOP sore losers
Fri, 11/06/2020 - 2:13am

So when Trump threatened violence in the suburbs if Biden were to win, he meant he would send his militias there?

Newsy
Fri, 11/06/2020 - 8:10am

Michigan GOP legislature and supreme court also quiet about new record daily covid cases in Michigan, 5,700+ since they kneecapped the governor's executive orders.

Winter is coming. Who is in charge? What is the GOP doing now that it has control and is responsible for the coming shortages and deaths? How will our economy survive?

These are the same unAmerican dimwitted losers who attended superspreader Trump rallies bringing the virus back to their local districts. They were willing to sacrifice their lives and those of their families, neighbors for loser Trump, a crybaby that won't accept his lose like a man. Same goes for the women who support the misogynist in chief.

Where is the shame, the decency?

America needs Michigan:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Ufw0TYfmRk

Thomas
Fri, 11/13/2020 - 1:27am

It is very easy for the Governor to go before the legislature to share the science and data she has. It is the legislature that had the plans to protect the vulnerable nursing home residents ignored by the Governor. Bad.

MW
Fri, 11/06/2020 - 8:47am

Why is there only fraud in states Trump is losing? If it was about election integrity and not about being a sore loser, you'd think he would be investigating Texas, Florida, or South Carolina too, right?

"U.S. Rep. Paul Mitchell, who is retiring at the end of the year, was one of the few Michigan Republicans to speak up and challenge the president. "

Dear silent Republicans, please grow a spine and start putting country before party. Stop allowing the president to push your party any further into the realm of baseless conspiracies. Don't wait until you have one foot out the door before finally getting the gall to go against your "dear leader."

Bill
Fri, 11/06/2020 - 9:08am

The headline should have read "Republicans too spineless to stand up for democracy as Trump baselessly claims fraud."

Rick
Fri, 11/06/2020 - 9:21am

The Republican silence is telling and quite sad. But not unexpected after 4 years of lies.

Gary
Fri, 11/06/2020 - 11:19am

The writer falsely claims that "Biden beat Trump." Until the ballots are counted and certified neither can be said to have "beaten" the other. The story title would have been accurate and unbiased had the unnecessary word "Falsely" been absent, and certainly Biden is "leading" in the unofficial preliminary results, but neither has beaten the other yet, nor won.

GOP Sucks
Fri, 11/06/2020 - 3:59pm

Chatfield is Trump's bootlicker wasting our tax dollars to contest Trump's HUGE loss.

Charlie Day
Fri, 11/06/2020 - 6:20pm

My Goodness, Bridge! Have you no shame? They already proved that "faulty software" in Antrim county assigned 6,000 of Trump's votes to Biden, and they had to do a manual recount. We now know that 47 other counties in Michigan used the exact same software! You have no idea who won, and your title and statements in this article are divisive and disgustingly partisan. Let's wait for the courts and recount, please stop dividing people with your words.

Charlie Day
Fri, 11/06/2020 - 9:55pm

There is a reason for the quiet... It's called the calm before the storm... After the Antrim county news, all of my Trump neighbors (I won't call them republicans because I believe that many of them do not fit that description) are abandoning "mainstream" media, looking for truth, trying to find ways they can help, and also doing what I would call "preparing for war". It's kind of eerie... We are going to make sure we have enough toilet paper this time. This company that runs the voting machines (Dominion) was apparently vulnerable to hacking and many machines connected to the internet (See NBC article from about 10 months ago) and now that the Antrim county machine (as well as machines in 47 other counties as well as ALL of the swing states) have been proven to also be running this "Dominion" software/hardware, we are expecting chaos and recounts for the next few weeks to months. This is going to be the craziest election ever. And we're sure that just like every other time there have been allegations of fraud, no one will go to jail regardless of how much fraud is discovered. *double sigh*
Make sure you have plenty of popcorn!

a patriot
Sun, 11/08/2020 - 1:15pm

abandoning "mainstream" media, looking for truth, trying to find ways they can help, and also doing what I would call "preparing for war". It's kind of eerie... We are going to make sure we have enough toilet paper this time.

It is eerie. Abandoning society and planning a war because you don' get your way?

Also, if you are "preparing for war" and are fretting about your TP supply?

You aren't ready for war.

And Antrim county republicans caused their own problems by not checking their work before they turned it into the teacher. I would link to it, but you wouldn't believe it anyway. Of course when you don't believe anything except what you want to believe.............you can never be wrong.

What an awesome way to go through life. How does that work in the real world or on the job?

M
Mon, 11/09/2020 - 1:44am

These Republicans are much like the co-conspirators in Germany in WWII who stood silent while millions died. There is no place in a democratic government for these type of lowlifes who want to subvert the very same government they swore to protect.