The top Republicans in the Michigan Legislature are expected to travel to Washington, D.C. to meet with President Trump on Friday at his request, reports CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster. According to a source familiar with the trip, House Speaker Lee Chatfield and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey are expected to make the trip. It's not clear if any other lawmakers or officials will join them and what will be discussed. President-elect Joe Biden leads Mr. Trump by more than 154,000 votes in Michigan.
News of the meeting came hours after two Republican members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers said they wanted to rescind their votes from Tuesday night to certify the county's election results. The canvassing board initially deadlocked on certification, but after hours of public comment, the board announced a deal to unanimously certify the election and demanded Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson conduct an audit of certain precincts in Wayne County. The GOP members said in affidavits signed on Wednesday that they were pressured into agreeing to certify results and did so because of the promise of an audit.
William Hartmann, one of the Republican canvassers, told CBS News that President Trump called him and Monica Palmer, the board's Republican Chair, after the meeting on Tuesday. "He just called and thanked us for doing what we do to help try and make the election system better," Hartmann told CBS News. He said the call didn't have any impact on his decision to want to rescind his vote that certified the canvass. Palmer, the Republican chair of the canvassing board, told The Washington Post that Mr. Trump called her on Tuesday, but did not pressure her to change her vote. "His concern was about my safety, and that was really touching. He is a really busy guy, and to have his concern about my safety was appreciated," Palmer said. After the county officials said they wanted to rescind their certification, Mr. Trump's campaign voluntarily dismissed a federal lawsuit in Michigan, claiming that the Wayne County Board of Canvassers "declined to certify the results of the presidential election."
Michigan's Democratic Congressional Delegation on Thursday evening blasted the planned visit, saying in statement, "History will judge Speaker Chatfield and Leader Shirkey on whether they choose to acknowledge the results of the election and defend our democracy, or simply be loyal to one man."
In a statement on Thursday morning, a spokeswoman for Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, said the Republican canvassers' votes could not be changed. "There is no legal mechanism for them to rescind their vote," said Tracy Wimmer, a spokeswoman for Benson. "Their job is done and the next step in the process is for the Board of State Canvassers to meet and certify." The Board of State Canvassers is scheduled to meet on Monday to begin the statewide certification process. Later on Thursday, Benson released a statement about the post-election audit process, saying her office would conduct an audit "where the data shows significant clerical errors following state certification of the November election."
Chatfield and Shirkey's expected trip to the White House comes as conservative activists have urged state legislative leaders to appoint Electoral College members who favor Mr. Trump. Both Chatfield and Shirkey have recently shot down any plans for that. "Regarding state electors, 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 spokeswoman for Shirkey, told CBS News last Friday. Chatfield tweeted on November 6 "let me be very clear: whoever gets the most votes will win Michigan! Period. End of story. Then we move on."
PRESIDENT-ELECT JOE BIDEN
President-elect Joe Biden is ramping up his criticism of Mr. Trump for stalling the transition process, warning of dire ramifications for his administration's incoming national security and pandemic response teams, reports CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin. "Far from me to question his motive. It's just outrageous what he's doing," Mr. Biden told reporters in Delaware, following a meeting with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and a bipartisan panel of governors. Trump administration and Biden transition officials say their handoff remains blocked by Mr. Trump's unprecedented refusal to concede, with only "marginal" logistical contact between the two sides nearly two weeks after Mr. Biden was declared the victor. The president-elect on Thursday defended his decision not to pursue court action, insisting he remained hopeful that he could reach "consensus" with Republicans though cautioning he had not ruled out a legal fight to force the president's hand. "It's going to take us time if we don't have access to all this data. It's going to put us behind the 8-ball by a matter of a month or more. And that's lives," the president-elect said.
Looking ahead to Friday, Capitol Hill's two top Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, are headed to Wilmington for their first in-person meeting with Mr. Biden as president-elect. Among the topics potentially up for discussion: the confirmation battles awaiting the president-elect's cabinet picks, at least one of which Mr. Biden disclosed late Thursday he had already decided. "You'll soon hear my choice for Treasury," the president-elect told reporters in Wilmington, saying he believed his pick would be "accepted by all elements of the Democratic party, progressive to the moderate coalitions." Federal Reserve Board Governor Lael Brainard had been a front runner for Treasury secretary, three sources familiar with the decisions said. But while Mr. Biden says he has already settled on a pick to run the Treasury Department, deliberations over other key cabinet posts are still ongoing with just over 60 days until inauguration, report CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson, chief congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes, political correspondent Ed O'Keefe, and White House correspondent Paula Reid. Senator Bernie Sanders is closing in on a role as Mr. Biden's potential Labor Secretary, the area where the Vermont independent is seen as having the most alignment with the president-elect, according to sources familiar with the transition deliberations. Former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is under consideration for U.N. ambassador, after signaling his preference for a more foreign policy-oriented role. Transition officials had initially envisioned a post for the former mayor heading the Department of Veterans Affairs. Tony Blinken, the president-elect's top adviser on global issues, is the frontrunner for Secretary of State, according to people familiar with the ongoing deliberations. Michele Flournoy, a business partner of Blinken's and former under secretary of defense for policy, is a leading candidate to head the Department of Defense. A top contender for national security adviser is Avril Haines, a former deputy national security adviser who was spotted Monday with the president-elect in Wilmington. And at least four names are in the mix for the attorney general nod: outgoing Democratic Senator Doug Jones of Alabama, former deputy attorney general Sally Yates, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP
Mr. Trump held no public events on Thursday, the sixth day in a row the president has not held an event open to the public. Cameras caught him golfing in Virginia on Saturday and Sunday, but he has not made a public appearance since Friday when he gave remarks about Operation Warp Speed, reports CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson. However, Rudy Giuliani, a legal adviser to the Trump campaign, held an hour and a half press conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters alleging voter fraud. There were no witnesses present who had claimed to have seen the alleged fraud or a paper trail of fraud, reports CBS News White House associate producer Gabrielle Ake.
Republicans are decrying another legal defeat in Arizona after a state judge dismissed their case demanding election officials hand count a wider sampling of votes in Maricopa County, by far the battleground state's most populous. GOP attorneys had called on the court to block the county from certifying its results ahead of a November 30 deadline in the state, pending an outcome in the case, reports CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin. "This lawsuit was frivolous and rightfully dismissed. Arizona's election was well-run and transparent, and far-right fringes of the Arizona Republican Party should stop trying to undermine Arizonans' faith in free and fair elections," Geoff Burgan, the Biden campaign's Arizona communications director, said in a statement. Democrats had moved to intervene in the case, accusing of the GOP of attempting to "significantly and unnecessarily delay the processing of ballots well past the eleventh hour." Few legal avenues remain to contest results in the once-reliably red state, though demands have grown among some Republicans for the state's Republican governor and GOP-led legislature to intervene. Arizona State Senate President Karen Fann, a Republican, announced Thursday she was setting up a "email account to gather documented proof of voting irregularities." In a statement Fann said, "My hope is this will sort out the facts from vague allegations, give us a clear indication of the veracity of the election and begin an effort to ensure voters have confidence in the election system."
Two Wisconsin counties will begin their recount of the presidential election on Friday, according to CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster. Election officials in Dane and Milwaukee Counties were busy setting up for the process on Thursday. A spokesperson for Milwaukee County said that officials there expect to be finished with the recount by Wednesday, November 25. Scott McDonell, the Dane County Clerk, wouldn't make a prediction of how long it would take his county, but suggested it would a longer process. He believes the recount will show that Dane County communities properly administered the election. "We're so confident in our process," McDonell told reporters on Thursday. "Hopefully we can begin the process of restoring confidence in our elections. It might be hard, it might take a while, but we have a great system here."
IN THE SENATE
CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell reports that Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler made a plea to Georgia voters Thursday afternoon during a joint campaign event where the two candidates encouraged supporters to vote in the upcoming Senate run-offs not just to maintain control of the Senate but to serve as a "firewall" to save the country from Democrats. "Help us be the last line of defense against this absolutely rabid Democrat intent for our country," said Perdue in a sentiment that Loeffler reiterated throughout her remarks. CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson adds that the candidates also used rhetoric such as "if this result holds up," which in effect calls into question the validity of the election results while maintaining that supporters should still get out and vote to make sure a Republican majority in the Senate protects the country from the Democrat-controlled House and White House -- undoubtedly a tactic that has been further complicated by the president's refusal to concede. Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas joined Perdue and Loeffler during the joint campaign event in Perry, Georgia, on Thursday afternoon. He made the case that both Perdue and Loeffler's opponents are unqualified to serve and said both will push for a radical agenda in the Senate. Loeffler followed up the attacks on her opponent Democrat Raphael Warnock by continuing to hone in on the allegation that he's made remarks that a person can't serve both God and the military. Warnock has refuted this on Wednesday, saying that this is an effort by Republicans to sow fear and division. In Jonesboro, Warnock and fellow Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff asked voters to turn out on January 5th like they did on November 3rd. Warnock told voters it's their time to take up the baton of working to bend the arc of history toward justice.