In a matter of a few minutes, Team Trump’s fantasy of a Hail Mary election reversal in Michigan fell apart in spectacular fashion.
Still refusing to accept the results of an election he lost two weeks ago, President Donald Trump has rested his negligible hopes for a second term on a series of long-shot legal challenges based on his baseless claims of widespread voter fraud, recounts, and the faint possibility that Republicans in several states that he lost by significant margins will somehow refuse to acknowledge the will of the people.
For a brief time on Tuesday night, that last option almost became a reality.
In what would have been an unprecedented decision, the two Republican members of the four-person Wayne County Board of Canvassers in Michigan voted against certifying the county’s election results, citing slight discrepancies and imbalances in Detroit’s absentee counting boards. The deadlock would have resulted in a delay in the state authorizing the results.
After initially voting that she would not certify the results, Republican committee chair Monica Palmer said she would be open to certifying the county’s results if they didn’t include jurisdictions in Detroit—a city that is 80 percent Black and voted overwhelmingly for President-elect Joe Biden.
Shortly after the Republicans voted against certifying the results of a county that tilted the state toward Biden, Michigan Republican Party chairwoman Laura Cox released a celebratory statement.
“I am proud that, due to the efforts of the Michigan Republican Party, the Republican National Committee and the Trump Campaign, enough evidence of irregularities and potential voter fraud was uncovered resulting in the Wayne County Board of Canvassers refusing to certify their election results,” Cox said.
Members of the Trump campaign and legal team soon followed suit.
“Looking forward to talking with @ShannonBream tonight on Wayne County, Michigan’s refusal to certify FALSE election results,” Trump senior legal adviser Jenna Ellis tweeted. “This is a huge win for election integrity!!”
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who has recently been moonlighting as a Trump campaign aide, cited Team Trump’s roundly mocked collection of Michigan affidavits alleging election fraud as the reason why the board refused to certify the results.
“After presenting 234 pages of sworn affidavits raising allegations of fraud in Wayne County, Michigan voting, the Wayne County Board of Canvassers has DECLINED to certify their portion of the Michigan vote,” she boasted on Twitter, promoting her upcoming appearance on Trump-boosting Fox News host Sean Hannity’s show.
The president, meanwhile, was absolutely ecstatic on Twitter.
“Wow! Michigan just refused to certify the election results!” Trump exclaimed. “Having courage is a beautiful thing. The USA stands proud!”
During McEnany’s interview with Hannity, however, things quickly changed.
At the end of a tense meeting that featured election officials and public commenters blasting the Republicans for attempting to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters, the Republican members reversed course and the board unanimously voted to certify the results. The board also passed a resolution calling on the Michigan secretary of state to audit all the jurisdictions that showed discrepancies between absentee ballot counts and votes recorded in ballot books.
While this was happening, Hannity and McEnany were still celebrating what they thought was an election-altering game-changer.
“Meanwhile, we go to the state of Michigan. Officials there are refusing to certify their results in Wayne County after real allegations of voting irregularities in Detroit,” Hannity declared. “You might remember Kayleigh McEnany, right here on this program, holding up last week 234 real affidavits. Fake news CNN said they’re just empty pieces of paper. That was a lie!”
Dramatically flipping through her 234 pages of affidavits, much as she did last week on Hannity’s program, the press secretary claimed that “these pieces of paper” were “the reason that you had a county-level, Wayne County canvassers say we cannot certify this election.”
At the same time, the president was still boasting on Twitter, delighted over the prospect of disenfranchising thousands of Black voters.
“Flip Michigan back to TRUMP,” he tweeted at the exact moment Wayne County voted to certify the results. “Detroit, not surprisingly, has tremendous problems!”