New Indictment Sheds Light on Trump’s Election Lies in Michigan

Former President Donald Trump arrives at a rally on near Washington, Michigan in April 2022. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

By Kyle Kaminski

August 2, 2023

Former president and 2024 Republican frontrunner Donald Trump has been charged with conspiring to defraud the United States for his attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election—and some of the charges are based on lies he told to Michiganders.

MICHIGAN—A new indictment released this week against Donald Trump spells out a bevy of fresh criminal charges tied to the former president’s blatant attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election—marking the third time Trump has been indicted this year alone.

The case includes four separate criminal charges, which were approved by a grand jury on Tuesday. They include three separate conspiracy charges and one obstruction charge—all of which are related to conspiring to defraud the United States, its elections, and its voters by attempting to obstruct or impede the official certification of the 2020 presidential election.

The 45-page indictment cites Trump’s various attempts over the last three years to overturn the election that he lost to President Joe Biden, including his amplification of lies about middle-of-the-night “vote dumps” in Detroit that he blamed, in part, for his defeat in 2020.

“These claims were false, and the defendant knew that they were false,” the indictment reads.

Three pages of the indictment are focused exclusively on Trump’s efforts to overturn the election in Michigan.

Here’s a quick look at the accusations and the timeline, according to the indictment:

The day after the election, Trump claimed without evidence that there had been a suspicious influx of ballots in the middle of the night in Detroit—which he purported to be illegitimate ballots for Biden that tilted the election and contributed to his 154,000-vote defeat in Michigan. 

Two weeks later, on Nov. 20, Trump met in the Oval Office with Michigan’s former Republican Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, where he repeated false claims of a so-called “vote dump.”

On Dec. 1, Trump again raised the false claim with former US Attorney General Bill Barr, who, just like Shirkey, had reportedly told Trump that there was no indication of voter fraud in Detroit. 

Still, the next day, Trump continued to echo his unfounded conspiracies in a speech from the White House: “A vote dump of 149,772 votes came in unexpectedly. We were winning by a lot. That batch was received in error. Nobody knows anything about it. It’s corrupt. Detroit is corrupt. I have a lot of friends in Detroit. They know it. But Detroit is totally corrupt,” Trump said. 

On Dec. 7, Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, texted Shirkey to reiterate the false claim of election fraud in Detroit and to seek assistance in overturning the election in Michigan. He also urged Shirkey to pass a resolution saying the election is “in dispute” and to disqualify the state’s presidential electors from certifying the state’s electoral votes for Biden, the indictment says.

Shirkey ignored the request.

“Nobody wanted him to win more than me. I think he’s done an incredible job. But I love our republic, too,” Shirkey said in a statement at the time. “I can’t fathom risking our norms, traditions and institutions to pass a resolution retroactively changing the electors for Trump, simply because some think there may have been enough widespread fraud to give him the win.”

Meanwhile, more extreme factions of the Republican Party went to work.

On Dec. 14, a group of 16 Michigan Republicans allegedly had a secret meeting in the basement of the Michigan Republican Party headquarters in Lansing, where they signed their names to multiple certificates falsely stating they were the state’s “duly elected and qualified electors for the president and vice president of the United States.” 

Those documents were sent to the US Senate and the National Archives in what state Attorney General Dana Nessel described as a “coordinated effort to award the state’s electoral votes to the candidate of their choosing, in place of the candidates actually elected by the people.”

Those fake electors were denied entrance that day to the state Capitol, where Michigan’s real presidential electors were gathered inside to certify electoral votes for Biden. Still, Trump continued to repeat the false claims publicly—including the morning of the Jan. 6 insurrection. 

“After officials in Detroit announced the last votes had been counted, tens of thousands of additional ballots arrived without required envelopes. Every single one was for a Democrat. I got no votes,” Trump said in a speech before encouraging crowds to march to the Capitol.

In addition to Michigan, the indictment meticulously lays out Trump’s efforts to overturn the election in key states like Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. 

Like in Michigan, these “sham” attempts to subvert democracy included efforts to persuade lawmakers to appoint fake electors who would hand Trump their state’s electoral ballots. 

The latest indictment also sheds light on Trump’s efforts to wield the power of the US Justice Department to aid in his efforts to overturn the election, and his pressuring of former Vice President Mike Pence to “fraudulently alter the election results” on Jan. 6.

The indictment also cites how Pence, senior Justice Department leaders, top White House lawyers, the director of National Intelligence, and allied state lawmakers in key swing states all told Trump there were no examples of widespread fraud. The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency also issued a statement noting there was zero evidence of any voting systems being compromised, according to the indictment.

Evidence of Trump’s role in the plot is extensive, and much of it was presented to the public during hearings held last summer by the US House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack. Still, in a statement on Truth Social, Trump’s campaign called the charges “fake,” attacked the Biden administration, and likened being indicted to the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany.

Tuesday’s charges mark the second time Trump has been indicted by the Special Counsel. All told, the former president now faces 40 federal charges, including 32 counts of violating the Espionage Act for mishandling of classified military and nuclear documents after he left office.

Trump has also been indicted in an unrelated case in New York, and could be indicted in another case in Georgia tied to his attempt to overturn his 2020 loss in that state.

The charges arrived as Trump holds a lead in the 2024 Republican presidential primary, a field with few candidates willing to directly criticize Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. His continued legal troubles, however, have hurt his standing with voters, with 58% believing he’s unfit to serve as president again, according to a Navigator survey of 1,000 registered voters. 

For the latest Michigan news, follow The ‘Gander on Twitter.

Follow Political Correspondent Kyle Kaminski here.

Author

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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