Trump options narrow as Michigan backs Biden win
Donald Trump has had a fresh setback in his bid to overturn his loss in the US election as Michigan lawmakers indicated they would not seek to undo Joe Biden’s projected win in the state.
Two Republican legislators pledged to follow “normal process” in validating the vote after a White House meeting.
Earlier on Friday, Georgia dealt the US president another blow by certifying Mr Biden’s razor-thin margin of victory.
The Democrat is set to take office on 20 January as the 46th US president.
Mr Biden’s victory in the Electoral College system, which determines who becomes president, is projected to be 306 to 232 – far above the 270 he needs to win. His lead in the public vote overall stands at more than 5.9 million.
Mr Trump, who has had few public appearances since the 3 November vote, on Friday again falsely claimed victory. “I won, by the way,” he said, while making an announcement on drug pricing.
He has made allegations of widespread electoral fraud, without providing any evidence.
His Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany accused the media and Democrats of hypocrisy.
“While in 2016 President Trump became the duly elected president, many sought to undermine him, discredit him, de-legitimise him and deny his victory. There were no calls for unity, there were no calls for healing,” she said.
“So while every legal vote is counted let us not forget the inexcusable transition, or lack thereof, that President Trump had to endure in 2016 and for years into his presidency.”
What is the president’s next move?
After a string of court defeats in his efforts to challenge the election results, Mr Trump’s team is hoping to convince legislatures controlled by his fellow Republicans in key states to ignore the outcome and declare Mr Trump the victor, according to multiple US media outlets.
Mr Trump has also expressed interest in inviting legislators from Pennsylvania, another battleground won by Mr Biden, to the White House, a senior campaign official confirmed to the BBC’s US partner, CBS News.
But he has no such meetings currently listed on his public schedule for this weekend, and counties in the Rust Belt state, along with Michigan, are due to certify their vote totals on Monday.
It is seen as highly unlikely that the president’s team would be able to flip Michigan and Pennsylvania.
Even if they managed to do so, Mr Trump would still need to overturn the result in one other state in order to leap-frog Mr Biden in the Electoral College.
Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield confirmed the long odds of any such strategy after the White House meeting.
The two Republicans – hailing from a state that Mr Biden is projected to win by 154,000 votes – said they had focused during the discussion on Covid-19 assistance, not Mr Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results.
The White House said earlier it was “not an advocacy meeting” and simply part of the president’s routine meetings with state lawmakers across the country, although he has conducted very few engagements since the election.
Afterwards, Mr Shirkey and Mr Chatfield said in a joint press release: “We have not yet been made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan and as legislative leaders, we will follow the law and follow the normal process regarding Michigan’s electors, just as we have said throughout this election.”
Democrats accuse Mr Trump of abusing his office by trying to pressure the legislators to subvert the will of voters and seat their own electors to the Electoral College, which gathers on 14 December.
What has Joe Biden been up to?
Amid the row the president-elect has sought to plough on with the transition, this week announcing appointments and meeting national security experts.
On Friday he met two top Democratic legislators, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, to discuss how to help “struggling working families and small businesses” during the worsening coronavirus outbreak.
“They agreed that Congress needed to pass a bipartisan emergency aid package,” a joint statement said.
It said that Mr Biden also “raised his agenda for the first 100 days of his presidency”.
In another development Twitter is preparing to hand control of the presidential @POTUS account – currently being used by Mr Trump – to Joe Biden on inauguration day even if Mr Trump has not conceded his loss by then, a spokesman for the company is quoted as saying by Politico.
What happened in Georgia and other key states?
Following a by-hand recount, Mr Biden’s narrow victory in Georgia was officially certified on Friday by the Republican official who oversaw the audit.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said: “Like other Republicans. I’m disappointed, our candidate didn’t win Georgia’s electoral votes.
“I live by the motto that numbers don’t lie.”
Mr Biden beat Mr Trump by 12,670 votes, becoming the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Georgia since Bill Clinton in 1992.
Efforts by the Trump team in other key battlegrounds have also largely stalled.
In Arizona, a judge rejected a lawsuit filed last week by the state Republican Party seeking a new audit of ballots in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix – the state capital and largest city.
In Pennsylvania, the Trump campaign lost their bid in state court to throw out more than 2,000 postal ballots.