Illinois Sen. Duckworth says 'silence is deafening' from Republicans on Trump's election maneuvers

Michael Isikoff
·Chief Investigative Correspondent
·3 min read

WASHINGTON — Sen. Tammy Duckworth reacted with “utter disgust” to reports that President Trump has invited Michigan Republican legislative leaders to the White House while he is seeking to overturn the election results in that state. Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat, demanded to know why her GOP colleagues in the Senate are not speaking out against Trump’s maneuvers in his increasingly desperate fight to hold on to the presidency.

“I am appalled,” Duckworth said in an interview for the Yahoo News podcast “Skullduggery.” “I cannot believe we’re at a place in this country where this would happen. He is trying to disenfranchise literally millions of voters, and people need to step up and stand up to him.”

Duckworth was reacting to reports, now confirmed by the White House, that Trump has invited the Republican leaders of the Michigan House and Senate for a meeting on Friday. The move comes as the president’s legal team is seeking to block certification of the election results in Michigan, which President-elect Joe Biden carried by 154,187 votes.

Although the purpose of the meeting was not announced, the timing of it suggests a connection to the president’s efforts to prevent the state from certifying Biden’s victory on the basis of unsubstantiated claims by his lawyers, including Rudy Giuliani, of widespread voter fraud, especially in Wayne County, which includes heavily Black and Democratic Detroit.

In this image from video, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., speaks during the fourth night of the Democratic National Convention on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)
Sen. Tammy Duckworth speaks at the Democratic National Convention on Aug. 20. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

Some of the president’s strategists have argued that Republican-controlled legislatures in Michigan and other states where Biden won can put aside the election results and appoint Trump electors to vote for him rather than Biden in the Electoral College. By the Associated Press count, which excludes Georgia as undecided, Biden leads Trump by 290 to 232 electoral votes. Even if Michigan’s 16 electoral votes were awarded to Trump instead, and even if he were also declared the victor in Georgia, also with 16 electors, he would still be short of the 270 he would need to win a second term.

“Where are my Republican colleagues who have not spoken up and opposed him?” Duckworth said during the “Skullduggery” interview. “That’s what I want to know. We know who President Trump is. We know he’s going to continue to put his own personal well-being over the good of this country. Where are my Republican colleagues? Where are the people of conscience? Their silence is deafening.”

Among those who have reportedly been invited to the White House are Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield. But even if the president does seek to pressure the Michigan lawmakers to try to appoint Trump electors, it’s not at all clear they would go along with such an unprecedented move.

“Michigan law does not include a provision for the legislature to directly select electors or to award electors to anyone other than the person who received the most votes,” Amber McCann, a spokesperson for Shirkey, said earlier this week, according to the news site Bridge Michigan.

Chatfield told the same site that “the candidate who wins the most of those votes will win Michigan’s electoral votes, just like it always has been. Nothing about that process will change in 2020.”

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