Former President Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on October 09, 2021 in Des Moines, Iowa. | Scott Olson/Getty Images
Three days after voting to refer former President Donald Trump for criminal prosecution, the bipartisan Jan. 6 House select committee on Thursday released its long-awaited final report that included new details about the role of Republican officials in Michigan pushing forth the lie that the 2020 election was stolen.
That same lie was the basis for Trump inviting protesters to Washington D.C. for a rally on Jan. 6, 2021, many of whom then stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to halt certification of President Joe Biden’s win.
Although Michigan featured prominently in the executive summary of the report that was released Monday, the final report provided new information, including that Trump asked U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Tipton) to act as an intermediary between Trump and GOP legislators in Lansing in an effort to try and derail certification of Biden’s more than 154,000 vote win in Michigan.
The Advance has sent a request for comment to Walberg.
The 845-page report notes that on Nov. 12, 2020, Trump asked Walberg to “check with key leadership in Michigan’s Legislature as to how supportive they could be in regards to pushing back on election irregularities and potential fraud.”
That was the same day that the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released a joint statement of election security officials stating that the election was “the most secure in American history,” and that there was “no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”
That statement undermined Trump’s thoroughly disproven contention that ballots had been manipulated, using an initial mistake in Northern Michigan’s Antrim County that briefly showed Biden winning in the predominantly Republican county.
The mistake, which was due to human error, was quickly corrected and had no bearing on the election. However, it was quickly seized upon by Trump and his allies in an effort to spread baseless conspiracy theories and cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election.
The committee’s report quotes an email that Walberg sent to Trump’s executive assistant Molly Michael after speaking with the president earlier in the day.
“‘During my conversation with the President this morning he asked me to check with key leadership in Michigan’s Legislature as to how supportive they could be in regards to pushing back on election irregularities and potential fraud,’” the report says Walberg wrote. “‘He wanted me to gauge their willingness to talk with him about efforts to bring about transparency and integrity in Michigan’s election and report back to him.’”
Walberg then went on to say he had already acted on Trump’s request.
“‘I’ve had conversations with [Michigan House] Speaker Lee Chatfield, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, and Senate President Pro Tempore Aric Nesbitt,’” Walberg said, according to the report. “‘They all assured me they would look forward to speaking with the President to report on their continuing efforts’” related to overseeing the election “‘and receiving any suggestions from President Trump.’”
Committee investigators say later that same day, Trump asked Chad Wolf, his Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, to look into allegations of election irregularities in Michigan.
“The next day, President Trump’s assistant sent Wolf a letter from Michigan State legislators raising claims about the election, including an incorrect claim that flawed Dominion software had caused votes to be counted for the wrong candidate,” stated the report.
Dominion voting systems were the type used in Antrim County, although a myriad of audits, including a hand audit, demonstrated that the voting system was not compromised.
A search in the final report’s endnotes indicates that the letter from Michigan legislators raising claims of election fraud was sent to Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson from state Sens. Lana Theis (R-Brighton) and Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte). However, the specific content of the letter remains unknown.
However, both Theis and Barrett were among 11 Michigan Republican senators who signed a letter on January 4, 2021, asking that Congress “pursue every available option” to examine claims of wrongdoing in the election, despite dozens of failed lawsuits and a lack of credible evidence of mass voter fraud.
An initial draft version requested Congress delay certification of the election at the scheduled January 6 session.
Theis later signed onto a Senate Oversight Committee report that concluded there was no widespread evidence of voter fraud.
“Our clear finding is that citizens should be confident the results represent the true results of the ballots cast by the people of Michigan,” it stated.
The Advance has sent a request for comment to Theis and Barrett.
Just a week after Theis and Barrett sent their letter to Benson, Trump hosted an Oval Office meeting with Shirkey (R-Clarklake), Chatfield (R-Levering), House Speaker Jason Wentworth (R-Farwell), and incoming Senate Minority Leader Aric Nesbitt (R-Lawton), along with Trump and his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who joined via telephone.
According to the committee’s summary, Trump and Giuliani “went through a ‘litany’ of false allegations about supposed fraud in Michigan’s election.”
“Chatfield recalled President Trump’s more generic directive for the group to “have some backbone and do the right thing,” which he understood to mean overturning the election by naming Michigan’s Electoral College electors for President Trump,” the summary stated. “Shirkey told President Trump that he wouldn’t do anything that would violate Michigan law.”
Frustrated that he couldn’t convince Shirkey and Chatfield to illegally alter the outcome of Michigan’s election results, the committee says Trump “or his team maliciously tweeted out Shirkey’s personal cell phone number and a number for Chatfield that turned out to be wrong.”
Following that tweet, Shirkey received nearly 4,000 text messages while a former Petoskey resident reported being “inundated” with calls and texts intended for Chatfield.
The committee also noted that on Nov. 17, 2020, three days before the Oval Office meeting with the Michigan delegation, CISA Director Christopher Krebs was fired by Trump after Krebs tweeted out a statement from nearly 60 election scientists dismissing Trump’s claims that election systems had been manipulated, saying that “in every case of which we are aware, these claims either have been unsubstantiated or are technically incoherent.”
Trump called Krebs’ statement “highly inaccurate” and continued to insist there had been fraud.
The report stated flatly, “The President had no evidence for his claim.”
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