Candidate Trump Leaned on Michigan Canvassers to Deny Civil Rights

[NB: check the byline, thanks. / ~Rayne]

Yesterday The Detroit News reported Donald Trump and GOP party chair Ronna Romney McDaniel pressured Wayne County canvassers Monica Palmer and William Hartmann on November 17, 2020 to refuse to certify the election results.

The source of the recordings on which Detroit News based their report is not clear.

~ ~ ~

There’s conjecture this may have been material from the House January 6 Committee obtained from McDaniel’s own cell phone.

However the wording of the Detroit News article puts some distance between McDaniel and the recording, making it more likely the source was in the same space with the canvassers:

“We’ve got to fight for our country,” said Trump on the recordings, made by a person who was present for the call with Palmer and Hartmann. “We can’t let these people take our country away from us.”

Emphasis mine.

The distancing was even more pointed in the following paragraph, describing what sounds more like protecting a source from organized crime operations:

The News listened to audio that was captured in four recordings by someone present for the conversation between Trump and the canvassers. That information came to The News through an intermediary who also heard the recordings but who was not present when they were made. Sources presented the information to The News on the condition that they not be identified publicly for fear of retribution by the former president or his supporters.

Could this have been McDaniel’s work? Sure. Why was this released now, especially when she continues to defend her role at that time?

If it was from the J6 Committee, again, why now, and why the protections for the source?

Detroit News matched the recordings with the J6 Committee’s records:

The timestamp of the first recording was 9:55 p.m. Nov. 17, 2020. The time was consistent with Verizon phone records obtained by a U.S. House committee that showed Palmer received calls from McDaniel at 9:53 p.m. and 10:04 p.m.

This suggests the source wasn’t Palmer nor the J6 Committee. Detroit News also reported they checked with Palmer:

Palmer acknowledged to The News that she and Hartmann took the call from Trump in a vehicle and that other people entered the vehicle and could have heard the conversation. She said she could not, however, identify who entered the vehicle or might have heard the conversation.

Palmer told The News repeatedly that she didn’t remember what was stated on the phone call with McDaniel and Trump.

There’s another possible source which might prove difficult to validate: the older of the two GOP canvassers, William Hartmann, died in 2021. It’s possible this was a recording he made as an aid to prepare a document he used to attempt to reverse his certification of the vote. Was this recording released by someone associated with his estate? With the buffer placed between Detroit News’s report and the source, it’s tough to say.

While Detroit News checked with Trump campaign spokesperson Steve Cheung about the recordings, Cheung said,

Steven Cheung, a Trump campaign spokesman, said Trump’s actions “were taken in furtherance of his duty as president of the United States to faithfully take care of the laws and ensure election integrity, including investigating the rigged and stolen 2020 presidential election.”

“President Trump and the American people have the constitutional right to free and fair elections,” Cheung said.

The Hill also followed up with Cheung while reporting on this same story:

In an emailed statement to The Hill, Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung said “[a]ll of President Trump’s actions were taken in furtherance of his duty as President of the United States to faithfully take care of the laws and ensure election integrity, including investigating the rigged and stolen 2020 Presidential Election.”

Wow. It’s as if Cheung was using a prepared script.

It’s a problematic script since the Executive Branch protects voters’ civil rights through the Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section’s Election Crimes Branch with regard to and through the Civil Rights Division. These functions are supposed to act independently of the White House, and definitely without regard to a candidate or party.

Nothing in this story by either Detroit News or The Hill indicates Trump told the canvassers he was asking for an investigation into possible voter fraud by the DOJ or Michigan’s secretary of state and state attorney general. He and McDaniel simply leaned on two white MIGOP canvassers partially responsible for certifying a huge chunk of the state’s votes.

Worth noting the Wayne County board of canvassers’ meeting on November 17 ran from 6:00-9:32 p.m.; Trump is not mentioned specifically during the meeting. Palmer alone says she’s uncomfortable certifying the city of Detroit.

Which suggests Hartmann wasn’t initially obstructing the certification before Trump and McDaniel’s phone call 23 minutes after the canvassers’ meeting.

~ ~ ~

There are a few more points which should be taken into consideration with regard to the Detroit News’s report.

– Each of Michigan’s 83 counties has a bipartisan four-member board of canvassers; each board is split 50-50 between GOP and Democratic Party members. The two canvassers Trump called are white MIGOP members who represent Wayne County. If you’re from the Detroit Metro area you already know these two canvassers already provide over weighted representation to white voters as Wayne County is a minority-majority county with whites composing less than 48% of the county’s population.

– Trump’s use of the phrase, “”We can’t let these people take our country away from us” during the phone call is a dog whistle racist plea to white MIGOP members not to allow a minority-majority county decide the election for Joe Biden. Emphasis mine; “you people” and “these people” are phrases often used to reinforce othering of non-whites.

– The number of votes which would have been affected by Palmer and Hartmann’s refusal to certify was more than 1.4 million, or nearly 20% of Michigan’s total active registered voters (7.15 million in November 2020). Wayne County is the most populous in Michigan, which may explain why pressure was placed on Wayne and not a formerly-red-trending-blue county like Kent, home to Grand Rapids.

The Detroit News is a right-leaning news outlet; the source did not choose to share the recordings with the left-leaning Detroit Free Press, a Gannett-owned outlet, nor did they go to the Lansing State Journal in the state’s capital city (also a Gannett outlet) or the right-leaning political news outlet Gongwer.

– The report was published a week after preliminary court hearings were held in relation to criminal charges filed against MIGOP fake electors who attempted to throw the election for Trump with a forged certification. The electors are established MIGOP members who held roles within the party’s apparatus at the time of the election.

– After the call to the Wayne County canvassers, Trump summoned Michigan state legislators Mike Shirkey and Lee Chatfield, who at the time were the state senate majority leader and the state house speaker respectively; they were to meet with Trump in Washington DC on November 19. In testimony before the House J6 Committee, Shirkey said Trump didn’t make an explicit ask of the two legislators but instead trash talked about Wayne County and parroted unsubstantiated voter fraud claims. Trump also hosted a conference call with the two state legislators and both Rudy Giuliani and Ronna McDaniel during which Giuliani continued the false claims of voter fraud. Trump made multiple calls to Shirkey after the legislators’ visit to DC as well as tweets – a social media post on January 3 included Shirkey’s personal phone number resulting in more than 4,000 text messages.

– There is a schism within the MIGOP which may have encouraged the release of the recordings to the Detroit News. Trump-y former Michigan secretary of state candidate and current MIGOP chair Kristina Karamo has been under fire for mismanagement of the party’s finances and violations of election laws. A faction of the party has been trying to remove her as chair. How much of the party’s problems may be related to Trump’s support of losing-candidate remains to be seen; she has not been able to raise sufficient funds to support the party and pay its debts.

~ ~ ~

Trump meeting directly with state legislators in an effort to pressure the state to overturn the 2020 election looks as much like legitimate protection of voters’ civil rights as the phone calls to the Wayne County canvassers — as in not at all legitimate.

It looks like additional evidence of an attempt to deny the civil rights of a majority of Michigan voters in 2020 — violating 18 USC 241 just as Trump was charged by Special Counsel — with special animus toward the minority-majority community of Wayne County — including the city of Detroit.

Is the trashing of the MIGOP’s finances and operations by a Trump-endorsed former SOS candidate payback for failing to deliver the state by denying those rights? Is it a twist of the shiv that a Black MIGOP chair is destroying the state party?


(h/t to harpie for the article link in comments)

80 replies
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  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Thanks for the write up and putting this in context, which mocks Trump’s claims to impartiality or to promoting compliance with law and procedure. It seems even worse than his call to Raffensperger, also inappropriate. Presidents do not call local county officials about their implementation of state law. It’s a bit like a top general calling a non-com for help, because his CO is refusing to obey an illegal order. Hard to see how this call could have been made to pursue any legitimate purpose.

    • Alan Charbonneau says:

      “It’s a bit like a top general calling a non-com for help, because his CO is refusing to obey an illegal order”. Thanks, that’s an very illuminating analogy. It’s also very funny.

      • Spencer Dawkins says:

        I agree, and, also, thought provoking. It provoked this thought, from me:

        “There are a lot of people in Michigan Trump was more likely to call before he got down to the only two white GOP canvassers in this minority-majority county. I wonder how many of them he also called”.

        • jecojeco says:

          The tone is set at the top “listen up you people, we have to do something about these people who are taking our country away from us, we have to fight like hell”

          This campaign is going to be a doozey I’m amazed trump hasn’t dropped the N word yet.Jefferson Davis in a golf cart.

    • Shadowalker says:

      Speaking of implementing state law.

      I remember the call to former Governor Ducey while he was signing the certificates of ascertainment. As he’s signing, commander-in-chief phone ring tone, stops signing and picks up the phone, declines the call, continues signing.

  3. Longtime Reader says:

    This all seems like so much grief. Especially when bmaz chimes in.

    [Moderator’s note: This is your third username and third email address. Pick one of each and stick with them for every comment you attempt to publish. Pick a name which is more unique than “Longtime Reader” because you’re not the only person who’s attempted to use that name. Second, don’t drop in and start bashing moderators. You won’t have to deal with bmaz but with me. /~Rayne]

      • Longtime Reader says:

        Proof of what? Am I asking questions? (hint: no question marks).

        Just stating my reactions to some of what is here. On the good side, though, this site smells much better than what is coming out about dear leader donny and his pantsloads of feces.

  4. Nessnessess says:

    Hopefully not too OT, the mention of Trump’s use of “you people” brought to mind when 1992 presidential candidate Ross Perot used that phrase while addressing the NAACP. Oy vey, baby!

    The link below (broken; sorry it’s so long or if it’s a problem) is to a google search on that incident, if you’re interested.

    [Moderator’s note: Broken link removed. Please don’t cut and past from Google Search results page; the URL includes tracking information about your use of Google, your device, network, which then can link to this site and any community member who attempts to use the link. Instead, suggest readers search Google for “Ross Perot you people speech” and let them do their own digging. Thanks. /~Rayne]

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Please. If you’re attempting to cite an article, just give us the title, who wrote or published it, and a short description or critique of it, rather than that dog’s breakfast of a url. If that’s supposed to be a link to search results, fuggedaboutit.

  5. Patrick Carty says:

    I like how you added “Romney” to Ronna’s name, which she no longer users should she anger Donald. And to think it used to be a Republican badge of honor, particularly in your Michigan.

  6. Legonaut says:

    Thanks for this, Rayne. I’m struck by a couple of things:
    1) “Palmer told The News repeatedly that she didn’t remember what was stated on the phone call with McDaniel and Trump.” Really!?! Like him or not, I’d remember _exactly_ what POTUS said to me if he called. Like her or not, I’d remember _exactly_ what the national leader of my party said to me if she called. (At the very least, I’d write it down!)
    2) I was born & raised in “formerly-red-but-trending-blue” Grand Rapids, and live there now. It would be entirely unsurprising to find out someday that Team MAGA was mucking about here or in other counties as well. Since Dana Nessel probably wouldn’t pick up the phone (unlike GA), Trump & Co. would have had to go to the counties. Wayne probably wasn’t the only one.
    3) Other states (e.g. PA, NV)? Same logic; if they thought pulling this shit in GA & MI was a good idea, they didn’t stop there.

    • Rayne says:

      I can’t find it, absolutely need to get my hands on it, but I know I read Palmer was not qualified for the canvasser’s slot. I can’t recall what it was that was sketchy about her qualifications — residency? She had been living on the west side of the state, don’t know if she hadn’t lived in Wayne County long enough or what. But of the two canvassers Palmer was the one I’m most concerned about in 2021 and she’s still pretty iffy years later.

      In re other parts of MI: remember the bullshit with voting machines in Antrim County? That’s the other crap they were pulling.

      Good point about other states in which we’ve not seen the same hijinks. Perhaps that’s another reflection on MIGOP versus other states’ GOP party apparatus.

  7. Ithaqua0 says:

    With respect to your last paragraph – nah, it’s not payback if they don’t know you’re the one doing it.

  8. db_rouse says:

    The reason it was The Detroit News is they were the most likely not to try to kill it or spin it to the moon.The Wikipedia article gives a good clue as for why. It notes that the The Detroit News pointedly declined to endorse Trump in either 2016 or 2020. Right leaning but not in the tank.

    I think Trump’s statement is definitely tailored for a court’s ear than for the publics

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      If you’re comparing what the News would do compared to the DFP, the characterization seems nonsensical. As for Trump, when has he ever said something for the courts, except to call them names, instead of to influence the masses?

      • db_rouse says:

        I was thinking more along the lines of what a explicitly pro Trump paper would do like bury it or report it like a sabotage attempt. They could be trying to really reach a group that would automatically distrust anything from a left leaning publication.

        You’re right that Trump never addresses the courts that way but his lawyers have to. Trying to keep it from becoming yet another nail in his coffin.

    • HikaakiH says:

      I think you might have been referring to the statement by an employee of Trump’s campaign who very likely was working from a script supplied by a lawyer in the employ of the campaign. Trump would struggle to make it halfway through such a sentence.

    • Rayne says:

      No. This story wouldn’t have been killed or spun at Freep or LSJ; sources needed to validate the material might have clammed up, though. Not certain how Gongwer would handle.

      • Harry Eagar says:

        Nobody here will believe me, but newsrooms don’t give a rip about ‘leaning.’ Any reporter would salivate after that story.

        Conceivably, whoever leaked that story (or his lawyer) was savvy enough to have selected the paper with the most skilled political reporter.

        The News has an interesting origin story. Nobody was further right than E.W. Scripps, but the News was begun as an explicitly pro-labor sheet. That’s why it was a p.m. paper. Shift workers didn’t have time to read a paper before the whistle blew.

  9. bloopie2 says:

    Your recitation of Michigan election fact after fact that are somehow related but … how? reads like one of those logic puzzles we used to do from the Reader’s Digest. You know, the ones where you’re given an abbreviated set of interlocking facts about who lives next door to whom, who makes more money, what they do for a living, etc., and you have to figure out, “Who lives in the red house?” or such. Here, the final question is, “Who made the recordings and who leaked them?” This post certainly has given us a lot of clues, but the answer is still elusive; we ask, do we know enough to solve the puzzle?

    And it strikes me also that this post is about Michigan, yet again in play. Is that because it’s a swing state? Because it’s so closely gerrymandered or otherwise rigged? I wonder if many other states’ local politics would be found to be just as fractious and fascinating, even when not consequential on a national level, if one were to dig this deeply into them. Or maybe it’s just that someone we know is from Michigan. Anyhow, fascinating stuff, thank you so much, especially as the mind starts to wander late of an evening.

    • Rayne says:

      The Wayne County canvassers seem rather random as do the protests at TCF Center during the ballot count in November 2020 — until one understands the demographics.

      The who/why about the leaked recordings still seem a bit random, but the MIGOP’s internecine warfare suggests it’s not random if there’s a faction seeking to clean house and upend Trumpism. Ditto this story in the Detroit News — looks much less random if one understands the ideological bent of the paper.

      I was interrupted this evening while trying to listen to a public radio story about a conflict between MIGOP’s chair Karamo and the Christianist base, and Muslim MIGOP party officers. I didn’t catch it all but the timing and the story left me with the impression there’s definitely a trend here.

      Folks outside Michigan may assume this state is all sewn up since MIDems managed a sweep across the highest state offices and both state legislative houses. MIGOP has shot itself in the foot again and again because of corruption, ex. Chatfield prosecuted, aides charged with fraud. But it’s not when the state districts have been called into question as they were this week; that’s a piece I didn’t report because it doesn’t quite fit with the canvassers’ recordings. And yet if the state seats are fluid and a Senate race is up for grabs with Stabenow’s retirement, who’s to say we won’t have yet another bunch of phone calls to canvassers pressuring them about races up and down the ticket, and this time calls from smarter people who won’t be as ham handed as Trump?

      • Christopher Rocco says:

        I believe that public radio story was from This American Life, reported by Zoe Chase. I just finished listening to it and immediately came to this post about the call to the canvassers and the implosion of the MIGOP. It’s definitely worth finishing the story!

        • Rayne says:

          Thanks for that, I need to finish listening. It’s a much bigger piece than I had thought since I only caught about 4 minutes.

          It Wouldn’t Be Make-Believe If You’d Believe In Me
          A major political party in a major swing state bets on a new leader: a total political outsider. How does that work out for them?

          Prologue plus four parts, just shy of 60 minutes total.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      There’s something about Michigan. Even more than New York State, uplanders inhabit a different world than those from the big, blue counties, Wayne and Washtenaw historically. Antrim County, late of “vote switching” controversies, seemed like a joke to those of us who’d been there and knew that a Biden ‘win’ had to be a reversible error. Trump (or at least his campaign) knew that too, but he exploited nationwide ignorance to foment a coup out of a brief mix-up.

      Timothy McVeigh ought to have signaled the state’s curdled depths, but he came from “the thumb,” which was no man’s land politically–until 2016, when Trump revealed the pervasiveness of white anti-government (and racist) leanings.

      Rayne, thank you for this post. Lo, whom the mighty were calling–the sheer bizarreness of POTUS phoning these two shouldn’t be forgotten. I heard someone say that John Eastman was on the call too. Do you know if that’s true? It would make thematic sense, but seem rather early in the post-election timeline for Eastman’s participation.

      • OneFineMonster says:

        Ginevra, the political leanings you’re referring to are just as deep-seated in “progressive” areas. I was born and raised in Traverse City and let me tell you–some bumper stickers and slogans toward tolerance barely disguise the fundamental resentment that lies at the heart of the entitled but mediocre manor-born.

        • missinggeorgecarlin says:

          I don’t know about ‘politics’ but I first became of aware of the nutjob “Michigan Militia” folks around 1995. Here’s the wikipedia. If you think about the these people having a foothold here for 3 decades+, the nuttery makes more sense.

          I don’t say that with any judgement. I live in FL.

          • Rayne says:

            Michigan Militia doesn’t figure into what was happening in Wayne County or in Antrim County. Antrim is already a deep red county which was pushed even further right by Trumpism. The Wayne County canvassers were likewise strongly influenced by Trumpism; they weren’t the kind of folks who were aligned with militia types. They were tightly wound into the MIGOP party apparatus.

            Militia types were more closely related to the plot to kidnap and execute Whitmer — and even those nutbags were influenced by Trumpism.

            (I knew Michigan Militia types, used to rub shoulders with them in the workplace in the early 1990s. Most of them avoided party politics.)

  10. Cheez Whiz says:

    The Detroit Noose was a reliable Republican mouthpiece back in the day. This all smacks of the the power struggle going on in the Republican Party. This came out because the remaining sane fragments of the Republican Party in Michigan want somebody else to deal with their problem.

  11. says:

    Comments by Trump on this call, as Rayne notes, involving the coupling of ‘they / them stealing the election’ (where stealing, means ‘VOTING, but not for YOU’) as a phenom in Detroit, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Milwaukee, put Trump’s dog whistle in audible range for MY human ear. So, someone please explain to me — How, in poll aggregates, 20 percent more black men express support for Trump since 2020; and among hispanics, Trump’s support has grown by even higher margins?

    Being a former stats prof, I know there are tons of measurement issues, but looking only at direction (toward Trump), and intensity, over time (number grows higher), this is likely a true phenomena. Has Trump started sounding less racist over time to some ears?

    I am truly baffled by this. Someone help me out here.

    • Rayne says:

      It’s a mystery to me why any BIPOC would vote for Trump because he’s so overtly racist. How much of this is internalized racism, how much is the need to identify with an authoritarian power god figure within the toxic masculinity of this patriarchal society…who knows.

      The missing part is what Black men and Hispanic/Latinx voters are exposed to in media which might persuade them. Just read a new Pew research poll results which showed younger Black and Hispanic/Latinx folks more likely to consume TikTok than other audience segments. What’s in TikTok which might be messing with their understanding of Trump and the GOP as just one example?

      ADDER: link to study

      • Susan D Einbinder says:

        Years ago, I worked at a public opinion polling firm, when everyone had home phone numbers, and they could, they claimed, confidently estimate the population’s responses from a sample of about 850 individuals (to a standardized survey). Today, the polls need to be evaluated on their source or sources: How are they soliciting participants, given the lack of a reliable way to reach everyone? Although I don’t follow it closely (because I’d lose my mind), one poll putting the previous president ahead of Biden, was based exclusively on online responses. And I think that a lot of people are lying when they reply to surveys: They don’t trust institutions or organizations or academics … because I just cannot believe that these polls accurately reflect the US population. It doesn’t make sense, and no one has explained it sufficiently to convince me it’s just random noise at this point.

        • Harry Eagar says:

          The polls were always garbage. Michael Wheeler’s (hmmm, related to anybody?) “Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics: The Manipulation of Public Opinion in America” demonstrated that by comparing actual results, and that was back in 1976.

          I was working for the Des Moines Register — home of the ‘respected Iowa poll’ — in 1980 when the poll completely blew the election. So much so that the company considered whether to fold the poll.

          BTW, the reason the Iowa Poll is always ‘respected’ is that it was (maybe still is) run according to the highest standards of polling theory.

          • Ithaqua0 says:

            I am kind of in the business as a long-practicing statistician who has done a lot of survey work, although never political polling, which has its own problems and pitfalls. You can do posthoc adjustment for some types of non-representative samples, e.g., racial imbalances, but you have a harder time working around other problems, for example, self-selection bias (“the pollsters are all part of the deep state trying to collect data on me, so I won’t answer them”) or response bias (e.g., social pressure to tell the pollster what you think they want to hear.) It’s a tough job if you try to do it well. As with any profession, some practitioners are more inclined to tell the client what they want to hear than is strictly ethical, and some are far from ethical – the author of “How to Lie with Statistics” worked for the tobacco industry for years, and it’s thought that the book was his mea culpa.

            • earthworm says:

              i was polled only once, during the Watergate period, the telephone poll was by ABC, and the subject was pres nixon. the way the questions were phrased, i could only answer “have no opinion” to most of them. there was no way for me to share my very strong opinions.
              however, it did answer my perplexity why so many people “have no opinion.” they are forced into that chute by the narrow or compromised polling questions.

              • Ithaqua0 says:

                Yes, question design is a big, big topic of research. Fifty years ago, we weren’t as good at it as we are now, but there’s still a long way to go, in part due to subcultures and different language usage across the U.S. Plus, a lot of polls – not ABC, of course – are push polls, designed to enrage you about something so you will donate. I answer all surveys as a matter of professional courtesy (self-selection bias!) unless they are push polls, which are pretty easy to identify.

      • RitaRita says:

        Based on my non-scientific polling of BIPOC taxi drivers in NYC and DC, I’d add the following to the list of reasons: “I was able to pull myself up without any help. Why should others get government help that democrats would offer?”. I suspect that there is also a fair amount of “He doesn’t mean me.”

        • missinggeorgecarlin says:

          I know two POC Trump supporters who believes he “did more for the black community than Obama” and “appreciates that he’s honest about his racism.”

          My old MAGA supporting neighbor spent $50K renovating the exterior of his home. He used a MAGA general contractor.

          Guess who did all the work? Mexicans.

      • OneFineMonster says:

        Look also at his support among American Jews. All because we are poc it doesn’t mean we are somehow immune to the same propaganda that is fooling millions of other people. If anything, this sort of thing is just further proof that humans are all the same. Meaning, largely stupid.

        • Harry Eagar says:

          Cannot have a fascist leader without fascist followers. The percentage of people wanting to be led is — I feel sure — consistent across communities, subject perhaps to cultural modification.

          • OneFineMonster says:

            Agreed. This is what people don’t get who make assumptions about the type of people who “should know better.” The corollary to this type of thinking is that different ethnic groups are in fact fundamentally different. As a humanist, and a poc the problematic nature of this line of thinking has always rankled me.

      • morganism says:

        For the latino community, i think these folks are the most realistic on voting issues. Have a good report on their site.

        At Equis Research, we are helping to move past the idea of the Latino community as a monolith, and toward a more sophisticated understanding of the experiences, issue preferences, and political identities of Latino and Hispanic voters.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Maybe misogyny trumps racism. As in, “He may hate me for the color of my skin, but he hates women more. I’m cool with that.”

  12. wasD4v1d says:

    My question, given my expertise as …um. Anyway, I am curious as to whether the fourteenth might in any way preclude fake electors from becoming real ones.

    Several years ago I traveled frequently to MI in service to clients in Dearborn, Hamtramck, and Livonia, so I find these dispatches by Rayne about a place with which I have some familiarity to be more than a little interesting. A deeper, more personal perspective than a business traveler gets.

  13. SteveBev says:

    Thanks for all the background information on this. There is clearly a set of intriguing questions about who was the original recorder of the calls, who had access to the recordings, who leaked them and why now, and what if anything does this motivation have to do with the infighting in Michigan GOP.

    One potential interesting data point is the Editorial of 9 December 2023 in The Detroit News
    “Michigan GOP needs an intervention”

    “ The Republican National Committee must intervene to help stabilize the Michigan Republican Party, which is heading into the presidential campaign season financially broke and wracked by internal feuds.
    The state GOP has all but disappeared under the leadership of Chair Kristina Karamo.

    RNC staffers are reportedly coming to Michigan next week to meet with GOP donors and assess the situation here.
    Meanwhile, 39 members of the state executive committee have scheduled a meeting Dec. 27 to consider unseating Karamo.

    RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel still lives in Michigan and must be aware of the state of emergency in the Michigan Republican Party. She also knows the critical role this state will play in next year’s presidential race and the battle for control of Congress.
    The RNC must take an active role in reestablishing political order in a state that is vital to its 2024 ambitions.“

    The leaked recordings dirty Ronna McDaniels, and further implicate the RNC in electoral fraud.

    Karamo is batshit, spiteful, conniving and manipulative, and prone to lash out against her enemies.

    • tienle47 says:

      Of all the speculation about the source of this recording here and elsewhere, your theory is the most sound. Thank you.

      • SteveBev says:

        I don’t know anything, it’s just surmise.

        But whoever leaked it to The Detroit News must have known that it was bound to publish notwithstanding The Detroit News had recently lauded McDaniel as potential saviour of the GOP in Michigan.

        This appears to be the very definition of killing two birds with one stone

  14. RitaRita says:

    Good article to provide additional context to the recordings.

    Does the phone call speak to the ad hoc nature of Trump’s subversion attempts? Was his intervention the first effort or the culmination of efforts to get these two canvassers to participate in the subversion?

    • BRUCE F COLE says:

      I love it that Rayne’s title has “Candidate Trump” on the call, a nod to the RNC Chair being in on it, and thereby removing that political extortion attempt from any semblance of an official act (which is of course how Trump will try to frame it).

      The knee-slapper, for me, was that their promise to cover the canvassers’ legal expenses was likely the most dissuasive comment they could have made, short of an offer of asylum in Russia or some such.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Yep. It’s an admission of illegal conduct. When your boss tells you he’ll pay your legal bills, he means his legal bills. You’re just the patsy.

      • RitaRita says:

        Probably should have offered an all expense paid trip to Trump International in DC. Paid legal fees was just too little of a reward for the illegal assault on voting.

  15. posaune says:

    wasD4v1d @ 6:20, Agree absolutely. Rayne, your analysis is insightful and revealing — makes me ponder the machinations in other (non-southern) states: the curtains should be pulled back. This post really lifts the discussion. Thank you.

    • Rayne says:

      Fulton County GA is the most obvious parallel — single most populous county in the state, majority Black voter population, focused efforts aimed at that single bloc of voters.

  16. Konny_2022 says:

    Thank you, Rayne, for this post and the ample context given on the occurences in MI. My comment relates to this part:

    The Hill also followed up with Cheung while reporting on this same story:

    In an emailed statement to The Hill, Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung said “[a]ll of President Trump’s actions were taken in furtherance of his duty as President of the United States to faithfully take care of the laws and ensure election integrity, including investigating the rigged and stolen 2020 Presidential Election.”

    Wow. It’s as if Cheung was using a prepared script.

    Whenever I read a Cheung quote in the MSM I think to myself: boilerplate, boilerplate. Sometimes it makes me sick when his statements are printed as if they were serious whithout any further comment on their veracity, sometimes I’m able to laugh it off. But it’s exactly Trump’s voice, only slightly more eloquent.

  17. SB317overthere says:

    “There’s another possible source which might prove difficult to validate: the older of the two GOP canvassers, William Hartmann, died in 2021.”

    Rabid anti-vaxxer William Hartmann died of covid in Nov 2021.

  18. harpie says:

    Thanks so much for addressing this so thoroughly, Rayne!
    And to EW Community for moving things along!

    I’ve been trying to get my dates, thoughts, new info together,
    but in this pre-holiday week [what feels like a] dumpster fire, I am losing ALL the threads… :-(

    1] Trump recorded [11/17/20] pressuring Wayne County canvassers not to certify 2020 vote [] Craig Mauger The Detroit News 12/21/23 6:20 PM ET Updated 7:45 PM ET

    2] Exclusive: Recordings describe [12/16/20] 2020 Oval Office photo-op where Trump was briefed on fake electors and January 6 Marshall Cohen, CNN, Updated 1:19 PM EST, Wed December 13, 2023

    3] [WaPo] Judge again turns over Rep. Perry’s phone records [leading up to 1/6/21] to DOJ Jan. 6 probe A federal judge turns over 75 percent instead of 90 percent of records the FBI seized from Perry’s phone, after intervention from a U.S. appeals court. [I haven’t read this bc Paywall]

    A commenter [sorry, don’t remember] mentioned ANDREW GIULIANI,
    and I never posted this [for some reason I think it relates to all of the above]:

    Oh, you mean Andrew [son of RUDY] GIULIANI,
    a TRUMP “White House public liaison assistant” [whatever that is],
    who says his last contact with Kellye SORELLE “on his phone” was on 11/10/20?
    That’s one day when OK RHODES tells Alex JONES that TRUMP should invoke the Insurrection Act.
    Also on that day: KERIK was with TRUMP at the WH and heard TRUMP’s “fur[y]” at BARR for not investigating “election fraud.”

  19. Savage Librarian says:

    According to his wiki, on November 18, 2020 (so a day after Trump tried to bribe the MI canvassers,) Kenneth Chesebro sent a memo to a Trump campaign lawyer (James Troupis) which was the 1st of 3 he sent outlining a plan to make January 6 the hard deadline for counting votes.

    On December 12, Chesebro texted back and forth with Mike Roman, Trump’s director of Election Day Operations. The excerpt below from the following article gives a sense of who Roman is:

    “Trump ‘army’ of poll watchers led by veteran of fraud claims | AP News, 11/2/20”

    “[Mike] Roman, who previously ran the secretive in-house intelligence unit for the political network led by GOP mega-donors Charles and David Koch, has organized what the campaign claims is 50,000 poll watchers. Many many of them registered through an “Army For Trump” website that asks his supporters to “enlist” in his reelection fight. The campaign also has hired full-time staff in at least 11 battleground states to organize the effort, several of them young lawyers.”

    So, there may be a possibility that Mike Roman and/or Ken Chesebro knows something about the MI recordings.

    • Savage Librarian says:


      It’s my understanding that Koch is now supporting Nikki Haley. So, maybe that gives Mike Roman incentive to reveal information that he may know how to access.

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