Democratic Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is investigating whether two state lawmakers who oppose certification of the state’s election results or met recently with President Donald Trump can be charged with crimes.
“Michigan’s attorney general is exploring whether officials there risk committing crimes if they bend to President Trump’s wishes in seeking to block the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in their state, according to two people familiar with the review,” The Washington Post reported Saturday.
“The attorney general is conferring with election law experts on whether officials may have violated any state laws prohibiting them from engaging in bribery, perjury and conspiracy, according to people familiar with the deliberations who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter,” the Post added.
Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and state House Speaker Lee Chatfield, both of whom are Republicans, agreed to meet with President Trump to presumably discuss his legal team’s allegations that the state’s ballot results could be fraudulent, based on claims by his campaign legal team.
But after their Friday meeting, Shirkey and Chatfield released a statement that did not indicate they planned to oppose the state’s certification of votes for Democrat Joe Biden.
They did, however, suggest that congressional committees were looking into fraud allegations.
“The Senate and House Oversight Committees are actively engaged in a thorough review of Michigan’s elections process and we have faith in the committee process to provide greater transparency and accountability to our citizens,” they said in a joint statement.
“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,” they added.
In response to the Post’s report, Georgetown Law School Prof. Jonathan Turley railed at Nussel, saying her investigation into potential criminal charges, if true, is wildly inappropriate.
Noting that in 2004, when Democrats including then-Sen. Barbara Boxer of California challenged the certification of Ohio’s electoral votes, “no one suggested criminal investigations.
“Nessel is threatening state legislators that, if they meet to discuss such objections, they might be targets of criminal investigations. That would seem an effort to use the criminal code for the purposes of intimidation or coercion,” Turley wrote on his blog.
“Once again, the media is silent on this abusive use of the criminal code,” he noted further on Twitter, adding: “Imagine if this was [U.S. Attorney General William] Barr threatening Democratic legislators with criminal investigation for challenging Trump votes. The media would be apoplectic. Yet, when used against Republicans, there is a celebration for the use of the criminal code for politically motivated threats.”
…Imagine if this was AG Barr threatening Democratic legislators with criminal investigation for challenging Trump votes. The media would be apoplectic. Yet, when used against Republicans, there is a celebration for the use of the criminal code for politically motivated threats.
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) November 21, 2020
The Trump campaign and at least one other conservative group, the Thomas More Society, have filed legal actions in Michigan seeking to stop state officials from certifying the election results while allegations of vote irregularities and fraud are litigated.
As for Nessel, she has declared, without evidence, that the Trump campaign’s legal challenges in Michigan are based on racism.
“Really the themes that we see, that persist, are this: Black people are corrupt, Black people are incompetent and Black people can’t be trusted. That’s the narrative that is continually espoused by the Trump campaign and their allies in these lawsuits,” she told the Detroit Free Press earlier this month.
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