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U.S. House Jan. 6 panel probes Trump talks with Michigan officials

Capitol insurrection
A congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the nation’s Capitol is seeking records relating to President Trump’s efforts to overturn the presidential election, including through contacts with officials in Michigan. (screenshot/C-SPAN live stream)

LANSING—On Wednesday, a congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol requested copies of post-election communications between former President Donald Trump’s White House and three Michigan officials as part of a broad inquiry into the attack and its origins. 

The panel is seeking all White House communications with Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey of Clarklake, former House Speaker Lee Chatfield of Levering and Wayne County Canvasser Monica Palmer between Nov. 3 and Jan. 20.

In a letter to the U.S. Archivist, committee chair Bennie Thompson of Mississippi indicated the committee is looking for documentation of “planning by the White House or others for legal or other strategies to delay, halt or otherwise impede the electoral count.”

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Michigan figured prominently in Trump’s attempt to overturn his 2020 election loss as he sought to convince state officials — in Michigan and some other battleground states — to reject President Joe Biden’s win. False fraud claims fueled a massive protest at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 as Trump supporters sought to block Congress from certifying the results.

Trump summoned Shirkey, Chatfield and other Michigan lawmakers to the White House on Nov. 20, but the Republican leaders left the meeting pledging to “follow the law” by awarding the state’s electors to the winner of the popular vote. 

Trump also personally called Palmer, one of two Republicans on the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, after the bipartisan board certified local results Nov. 17, including absentee ballot votes from Detroit that Trump had criticized but for which he never requested a formal recount. 

Palmer later attempted to rescind her county certification vote, citing intense public pressure she had faced during the canvass, but she told Bridge Michigan on Wednesday that Trump had not urged her to do so when he called her. 

“It was a brief, very brief, phone call,” Palmer told Bridge. “It was concerning my safety with the viral publicity of the intimidation that was put on me during the canvass.”

Palmer said she had no other discussion with Trump and is not concerned the congressional committee is now seeking White House communications with her. Shirkey’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and Chatfield could not immediately be reached. 

In addition to seeking records relating to Michigan officials, the panel is also seeking documents and communications involving White House contacts with officials in other states, including Georgia, Arizona and Texas. 

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, appointed members to the select committee in July, but Republicans have largely protested the proceedings. The panel now includes seven Democrats and two Republicans: Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who are among the few GOP elected officials to remain critical of Trump’s post-election conduct. 

The committee held its first hearing last month, taking testimony from police officers who described physical and verbal assaults they faced at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

When Congress reconvened the evening of the Jan. 6 attack, three Michigan Republicans — U.S. Reps. Lisa McClain of Romeo, Tim Walberg of Tipton and Jack Bergman of Watersmeet — voted against certifying Biden’s 2020 election win.

A week later, two Michigan Republicans — U.S. Reps. Fred Upton of St. Joseph and Peter Meijer of Grand Rapids — voted to impeach Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 riots, which Trump denies. They have since been censured by several county level Republican parties. 

Shirkey was one of the first and highest ranking Michigan Republicans to acknowledge Biden won the 2020 election but has subsequently made unfounded claims that the Jan. 6 insurrection was a “hoax” that was “staged” to make Trump supporters look bad.

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