Trump’s efforts to flip Michigan election results raise significant legal, ethical questions: Experts
As President Trump focuses his efforts to dump the election results on Michigan, electoral law experts say his contacts with Wolverine State Republicans raise serious ethical and legal concerns.
In the past few days, Trump has reached out to Republican members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers who, after initial resistance, voted to confirm the county's election results. These members would later, after speaking with Trump, sign an affidavit to withdraw their votes.
The president also invited Michigan lawmakers to come to the White House on Friday. One of those lawmakers, Michigan Senate majority leader Mikey Shirkey, who was greeted by protesters when he arrived in Washington Friday morning, declined to respond to questions from reporters.
These efforts by the president raise sensitive ethical and legal questions, according to legal experts.
MORE: Could recounts and lawsuits help Trump turn the election ?: Reality Check
"It is obviously deeply troubling from a moral and ethical standpoint, and in many ways we have not seen anything like it in modern times - a sitting president trying to basically undermine the elections." Daniel Weiner, associate director of the Brennan Center's electoral reform program, told ABC News.
“But it is also worrying and worrying from a legal point of view, and people attending these meetings should think long and hard about it. It is a federal crime to pressurize government officials to take official action in exchange for material or immaterial benefits, ”Weiner added.
It's not clear if lawmakers were offered something valuable in return for meeting Trump, or if Trump has plans to make such an offer when he meets with both men on Friday afternoon, but during a Friday afternoon press conference, the press secretary of the White House, Kayleigh McEnany told reporters that sitting was "not an advocacy meeting".
"There won't be anyone from the campaign there," said McEnany. "He meets regularly with lawmakers from across the country."
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
MORE: GOP leaders in 4 states suppress dubious Trump offer to voters
Senator Mitt Romney, R-Utah, is the only GOP lawmaker on Capitol Hill to have made a public statement calling for the president to contact Republican officials in states where President-elect Joe Biden won condemned directly.
"After failing to bring a plausible case of widespread fraud or conspiracy to court, the president has now resorted to open pressure on state and local officials to undermine the will of the people and overthrow the elections" said Romney on Thursday evening. "It's hard to imagine worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American president."
In contrast, the Republican National Committee held a press conference at its headquarters on Thursday during which the president's lawyers, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, made a number of baseless and conspiratorial allegations to reinforce ongoing legal efforts to overturn the elections has suffered repeated defeats in court.
Stephen Saltzburg, who served in the Justice Department during the Reagan and George H. W. Bush reigns, says what is happening is a scandal. "If any other president had ever tried what this president did, people would start looking at conspiracies to break electoral law," Saltzburg, a professor at the George Washington University School of Law, said in an interview.
According to Justice Department guidelines, indicting a seated president would be difficult, but he could potentially prosecute if he leaves office. And experts say that if it were tougher to create a defense, he was exercising the powers of the president because his actions are likely to be seen as taken in his capacity as a candidate.
MORE: AP FACT CHECK: The amount of false voting claims by the Trump Legal Team
But the legal experts ABC News spoke to say it doesn't matter.
“It's not about imposing punishment. It's not that the President of the United States shouldn't get involved in democratic processes for fear of being convicted of a crime. He shouldn't get involved in democratic processes because he's the president, because he respects the law, because he respects the process, ”James Gardner, a professor at the University of Buffalo Law School, told ABC News.
According to legal experts, these efforts by the president go far beyond the limits of political norms. "This is not the rough and tumble of politics, this is corruption," said Saltzburg.
“There is a fine line between political horse trading and bribery. But when you're dealing with something that is essentially shameful, he's essentially trying to get you to take action that is at least profoundly irregular and probably illegal. The law is getting pretty, pretty tough, ”Weiner said.
Weiner says these president's moves are not only ethically and legally questionable, but can also be viewed as another way of suppressing voters. “Instead of preventing people from voting, they try to devalue their votes after they have been cast - and again the targets are mostly black and brown people. It won't change the outcome, but that's not the point. The message is still being sent that some people's votes count less than others. "
Trump's efforts to flip the Michigan election results raise significant legal and ethical questions: Experts originally appeared on abcnews.go.com
Click to receive the most important news as a notification!
I'm A Celebrity: AJ Pritchard will not be told his grandmother has died until leaving castle
A ‘severe’ drop is imminent, this ‘3 Musketeers’ stock market is signaling, says contrarian strategist
This Fast-Food Chain Is Partnering With Walmart to Open New Locations
Flores on injuries to Tua, Gaskin and Ahmed plus more on the NFL’s COVID-19 crisis
Kaavan, Pakistan's lonesome elephant, starts new life in Cambodia
The Monolith in Utah Desert Disappears Mysteriously