The Trump campaign withdrew its last remaining federal lawsuit in Michigan Thursday, falsely claiming that local election officials had declined to certify the Detroit-area’s vote tabulation even though they voted unanimously to do so Tuesday night.
At the heart of the Trump campaign’s claim are two affidavits — filed by the GOP election officials who joined Democrats to certify the votes in Wayne County Tuesday night — claiming they only did so under significant public pressure and an assurance that Michigan’s secretary of state would conduct a thorough review of their concerns about absentee voting.
The two officials, Monica Palmer and William Hartmann, both initially voted to oppose certifying the Wayne County results, potentially upending the count of hundreds of thousands of votes in Detroit and its suburbs that were key to Joe Biden’s victory in the state. But within hours, as public pressure from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Secretary of State Joyce Benson and members of the public participating in the meeting, both Republicans reversed and backed certification.
The Trump campaign has mounted a string of legal challenges to voting procedures in states that helped propel Biden to victory, including Michigan and Pennsylvania. But courts there have nearly all quickly dispatched with the challenges as meritless, even as Trump has continued to falsely claim he won the election.
Trump campaign lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis are preparing to hold a noon press conference on the status of their legal efforts as the campaign’s options and time are dwindling. President Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed that he lost the election only due to widespread voter fraud, but his campaign has yet to produce evidence that fraud occurred, let alone introduce it in court.
Palmer and Hartmann submitted sworn affidavits Wednesday night to the Trump campaign that they wished to rescind their certification votes. Both described relentless public pressure and promises that their concerns about miscounted absentee ballots would be pursued.
“Late in the evening, I was enticed to certify based on the promise that a full and independent audit would take place,” Hartmann said in an affidavit notarized at 6:29 p.m. Wednesday. “I would not have agreed to the certification but for the promise of an audit.”
“Until these questions are addressed, I remain opposed to the certification of the Wayne County results,” Palmer wrote, in a statement that was notarized at 9:33 p.m. on Wednesday.
The Associated Press reported that Trump himself connected with Palmer and Hartmann on Wednesday. Trump had publicly praised their initial vote against certification and called it an act of courage. But the pair reversed themselves and supported certification just moments after they were congratulated by the president.
Palmer and Hartmann did not immediately respond to requests for comment.