Political Scandals

Report: Trump pressured Michigan officials not to certify 2020 vote

The Detroit News obtained a recording of a post-election phone call involving Trump and key Michigan officials.

Former President Donald Trump speaking to a crowd of supporters.
Charlie Neibergall/AP
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Donald Trump pressured two election officials not to certify 2020 vote totals in a key Michigan county, according to a recording of a post-election phone call disclosed in a new report by The Detroit News.

The former president 's 2024 campaign neither confirmed nor denied the recording's legitimacy, insisting in a statement that all of Trump's actions after his defeat to Democrat Joe Biden were taken to uphold his oath of office and ensure fair elections.

Trump has consistently repeated falsehoods about the 2020 election as he runs again for the White House. No evidence has emerged in a litany of federal, state and outside investigations of voter fraud that could have changed the outcome of the election.

The Nov. 17, 2020, telephone call included then-President Trump, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and Wayne County elections authorities Monica Palmer and William Hartmann, both of them Republicans, The Detroit News reported. Trump told the two canvassers that they would look “terrible” if they certified results after having initially opposed certification, the newspaper said.

The newspaper said the recordings were made by a person who was present for the call with Palmer and Hartmann.

The report comes as Trump seeks the 2024 Republican nomination while grappling with multiple criminal indictments, including a federal case and a Georgia case tied to his efforts to overturn Biden's victory. As he campaigns for a return to the White House, Trump continues to repeat the lies that the 2020 election was stolen, despite multiple recounts and court cases confirming his defeat.

Biden won Michigan, with Wayne County, which includes Detroit, providing a trove of Democratic votes. As such, it was one of the key places Trump focused on in the weeks after Election Day in 2020.

“We’ve got to fight for our country,” Trump said on the recordings, according to The Detroit News. “We can’t let these people take our country away from us.”

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National GOP Chairwoman McDaniel, a Michigan native, reportedly said during the call: “If you can go home tonight, do not sign it," adding, "We will get you attorneys.”

Trump is said to have reinforced the point, assuring the local officials: “We’ll take care of that.”

Steven Cheung, a Trump spokesman, said in a statement Friday that Trump's actions were “were taken in furtherance of his duty as President of the United States to faithfully take care of the laws and ensure election integrity.”

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

The Republican National Committee's communications office did not immediately respond Friday to a request for comment from McDaniel.

The reported Michigan call would have occurred about six weeks before another call Trump made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. That conversation is among the key points in Trump's indictment in Fulton County that accuses the former president of a racketeering scheme to overturn Biden's narrow victory in Georgia.

“I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have," Trump told Raffensperger in that call. “Because we won the state.”

Georgia counted its votes three times before certifying Biden’s win by a 11,779-vote margin.

A recording of Trump is also at issue in a Florida-based federal case accusing the former president of mishandling classified information after leaving the White House. In that case, prosecutors allege that in a July 2021 interview, Trump showed people, who were working on a book about his former chief of staff Mark Meadows, classified information about a Pentagon plan of attack on an unspecified foreign country.

“These are the papers,” Trump says in a moment that seems to indicate he’s holding a secret Pentagon document. “This was done by the military, given to me.”