A recently published phone call recording reveals Trump personally pressuring Michigan GOP election officials to block 2020 election results.

Behind Closed Doors

The call happened just 30 minutes after a Wayne County Board of Canvassers meeting on November 17, 2020. On the secret phone call were then-President Trump, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel, and two Michigan Republican election officials.

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Trump and McDaniel attempted to convince the officials not to certify the 2020 election results from Wayne County, which includes Detroit. “We’ve got to fight for our country,” Trump said, baselessly claiming the election was being stolen.

Twisting Arms

The two officials on the call were Monica Palmer and William Hartmann, members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers. Palmer and Hartmann had initially refused to certify the county’s votes, even though there was no evidence of fraud or irregularities that justified their objection. This played directly into Trump’s plan to obstruct the election outcome.

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In an alarming exchange, RNC Chairwoman McDaniel pressured the two local officials with promises of legal support should they defy their oversight requirements and refuse to certify the election. “If you can go home tonight do not sign” the certification, McDaniel urged. She even pledged “We will get you attorneys” to aid in their continued obstructionism. Palmer and Hartmann had a legal responsibility to validate the election, and Trump’s cynical phone call reveals a willingness to not just undermine the will of voters, but coerce public servants into violating their sworn duties.

Mounting Evidence

The recording of Trump’s phone call with the Michigan officials, obtained by the Detroit News, provides yet more irrefutable proof that Trump personally orchestrated numerous brazen efforts to illegally overturn the 2020 election that he lost both in the popular vote and Electoral College count.

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The taped phone call stands alongside Trump lackeys filing dozens of frivolous lawsuits in key swing states to try reversing results, as well as attempting to pressure officials in Georgia and Arizona. On the call, Trump continues to spread already debunked conspiracy theories about supposed “irregularities” such as Detroit’s minor discrepancy in ballots that officials easily explained as clerical and not fraud. Almost all lawsuits were eventually dismissed in courts around the country due to a complete lack of substantive evidence. But that didn’t stop Trump from trying every trick imaginable to cling to power against the democratic will of American voters.

Beyond Michigan

In addition to personally involving himself with pressuring Michigan officials, Trump also made attempts both publicly and privately to intimidate local authorities in other must-win swing states like Georgia and Arizona after his defeat became clear.

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Most infamously, Trump placed a phone call to Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger following the election. In recordings of that call published by major media outlets, Trump alarmingly tells Raffensperger “I just want to find 11,780 votes” – coincidentally the exact number Trump needed to flip Georgia from Biden’s column to his. Trump proceeded to badger Raffensperger with already disproven conspiracy theories in the hope it would lead the Georgia official to unlawfully alter the outcome. The Raffensperger call represented a dangerous escalation of Trump’s interference schemes to now directly target statewide officials when his legal options dwindled.

Legally Dubious

According to former longtime Michigan elections director Chris Thomas, who served under both Republican and Democratic secretaries of state, Palmer and Hartmann had absolutely no legitimate grounds to obstruct certification of Wayne County’s votes.

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Despite Trump ranting about supposed “tremendous voter fraud” on the call, Thomas confirmed there was zero evidence of any significant cheating or irregularities that would justify the actions of Palmer and Hartmann. Trump performed better in 2020 in Detroit, the location he baselessly decried as suspicious than he had in 2016. But faced with no genuine legal recourse for his defeat, Trump resorted to lying and bullying local administrators into helping him sabotage democracy.

Slim Margin

In his rambling attempts to make the case for fraud on the call, Trump highlighted a minor discrepancy in Detroit where about 150 fewer absentee ballots were tabulated than names that appeared in the poll books.

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But as Michigan’s head election director Jonathan Brater explained, if fraud had been committed, there would necessarily have been substantially MORE ballots illegally counted, not slightly fewer. The small margin here was a routine clerical issue, not a smoking gun for some grand conspiracy. Nevertheless, Trump recklessly exploited the routine imbalance to further undermine faith in the election results among his supporters.

Indictment Looming?

Legal experts say the recording could mean severe criminal consequences both for Trump, already facing a real possibility of indictment by the DOJ over other election interference actions, as well as for RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel.

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McDaniel, a Michigan native herself who should have been well aware of state election laws and procedures, participated eagerly in Trump’s legally dubious scheming during the call. As a top Republican Party official, her involvement crosses this scandal over into outright GOP coordination to obstruct and override the will of voters. McDaniel faces potential criminal liability over allegations of conspiracy to unlawfully influence the election’s outcome. And the evidence against Trump continues piling up across multiple states as investigators uncover more proof of his central role in trying to strong-arm the 2020 election in his favor.

Undermining Democracy

If Palmer and Hartmann had eventually bowed under the intense pressure from Trump and his allies and refused to certify Wayne County’s votes, it could have created the necessary loopholes for Republicans in the Michigan state legislature to seat their electors, overturning Joe Biden’s victory despite certified results.

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Fortunately, the two officials eventually did certify Michigan’s result on November 23 after initial hesitation. But Trump’s phone call scheme shows he was dangerously close to accomplishing an unconstitutional coup just by bullying local certifiers, which would have severely undermined Americans’ faith in free and fair future elections.

Abuse of Power

The secretly recorded Trump phone call represents a profound abuse of power and authority by a sitting President willing to break laws openly in a desperate gambit to unlawfully cling to office against voters’ wishes.

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On the alarming audio tapes, Trump directly involves himself in illegal extortion and coercion targeted at local election administrators. The recordings provide undeniable confirmation of Trump’s central role in orchestrating unconstitutional tactics to overturn an election regarded by international observers as free and fair. Trump was willing to brazenly ignore facts and evidence to undermine democracy itself for his ego and power.

The End is Just the Beginning

While the Wayne County election certification served as the denouement of Trump’s Michigan gambit, it was only the start of his various attempts to interfere with the 2020 election outcome.

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More evidence of Trump’s undermining of democracy continues to come out as investigations advance in multiple states and the U.S. Congress.