The 1/6 Commission wants to know what went down with Trump and Michigan Republicans

By: - August 25, 2021 7:36 pm

House Speaker Lee Chatfield and other Republicans had a drink at the Trump International Hotel D.C. after their White House meeting

There’s been some mystery surrounding a post-2020 election White House meeting between then-President Donald Trump and Michigan legislative leaders, including state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) and former House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering).

Now the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol wants to know what really went down.

After the Nov. 20 meeting, the Republicans said they were there to talk about COVID-19 relief, not to entertain Trump’s request to help overturn the 2020 election. He lost Michigan by more than 154,000 votes to now-President Joe Biden. Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani was on the phone during the meeting.

However, Trump after the meeting tweeted that it was “much different than reported by the media. We will show massive and unprecedented fraud!” Chatfield and other lawmakers were seen drinking champagne at the Trump Hotel in Washington that night.

And in subsequent interviews, Shirkey said that the election did come up, but he told Trump lawmakers had no role in awarding electoral votes. Shirkey also has endorsed the conspiracy theory that “dead people voted” in 2020 and called the Jan. 6 insurrection was a “hoax,” falsely claiming Trump supporters were not behind it.

Projection on the Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C., after House Speaker Lee Chatfield, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and other Republicans met with President Trump in the White House, Nov. 20, 2020

Shortly after the meeting, the GOP-controlled Michigan House Oversight Committee invited Giuliani to testify on Dec. 2 about baseless allegations of election fraud. Giuliani told lawmakers they had the power to overturn the election. Trump and his allies also plotted to overturn other states he lost, including Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, pressuring GOP leaders to assist them and filing a slew of unsuccessful lawsuits.

The special House committee has demanded documents from the National Archives and seven other agencies related to the attack and Trump’s attempt to overturn the election. Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said in a letter to the U.S. Archivist that the panel wants documents on “planning by the White House or others for legal or other strategies to delay, halt or otherwise impede the electoral count.”

As part of that, the panel wants communications from Nov. 3 and Jan. 20 between the Trump White House and three Michigan GOP officials: Shirkey, Chatfield and Wayne County Canvasser Monica Palmer. Trump called Palmer after the board certified Biden’s win during a chaotic Nov. 17 meeting in which Republican members initially refused to do so. Wayne is Michigan’s largest county that includes Detroit, a Democratic stronghold that’s 80% African-American. Palmer unsuccessfully tried to rescind her vote afterward.

House Minority Leader Donna Lasinski (D-Scio Twp.) has called for a state-level committee to investigate Michigan’s ties to the insurrection.

“What we saw today coming out of D.C. is what we’ve known here in Michigan all along – Republican leaders Shirkey and Chatfield were involved in conversations at the highest levels in the lead up to the Jan. 6 insurrection. We deserve to know the details on how involved they, and potentially other Michigan elected leaders, were in the disgraceful events of last January. No stone should be left unturned in D.C. or in Michigan,” she said.


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Susan J. Demas

Susan J. Demas is a 23-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on C-SPAN, MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQ people, the state budget, the economy and more. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 100 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive.