New Trump audio reveals ex-president pressured Michigan officials to overturn 2020 election – report claims

US

Donald Trump urged election officials in Michigan to “fight for our country” and not certify Joe Biden’s presidential election victory in 2020, according to local media.

The Detroit News reports a phone call made by the former president to two fellow Republicans on the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, in which he claims his party was “cheated”.

He reportedly added “everybody knows Detroit is crooked as hell” to the officials overseeing the county, which is Michigan’s most populous and includes Detroit, a Democratic city.

Mr Trump – who is the favourite to secure the Republican nomination for the 2024 election – currently faces criminal charges over allegations he conspired to overturn the 2020 results.

He argues he shouldn’t be prosecuted on the grounds former presidents cannot face criminal charges for conduct related to official responsibilities.

On Friday, the US Supreme Court declined to rule on his claims – leaving the matter for a lower court – as prosecutors try to fast-track a ruling and prevent Mr Trump from potentially delaying until he is back in office, when he could seek to pardon himself.

Pro-Trump protesters clashed with police at the US Capitol, where lawmakers met to certify the election results on 6 January 2021
Image:
Pro-Trump protesters clashed with police at the US Capitol, where lawmakers met to certify the election results on 6 January 2021

Asked about the latest audio, Mr Trump’s campaign spokesman, Steven Cheung, said his actions were taken “in furtherance of his duty as president of the United States to faithfully take care of the laws”.

He described the 2020 election as “rigged and stolen”.

The Detroit News’s report is reminiscent of Mr Trump’s tactics in Georgia, where he is charged with calling the Republican secretary of state to “find” enough votes to reverse his defeat there.

Michigan authorities have filed charges against 16 Republican state residents for their role in an alleged false electors scheme following the 2020 presidential election, but they haven’t charged Mr Trump.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson – who was not aware of the recordings until the report was published – said her office will continue to support investigations for “every crime committed in the attempt to overturn the will of Michigan voters”.

“We must recognise the direct line between these recordings and the tragedy that occurred at our US Capitol on 6 January 2021,” she added, referring to Mr Trump’s supporters’ attack as lawmakers met to certify Mr Biden’s win.

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Is Trump barred from 2024 run?

Mr Trump’s trial over claims he tried to overturn the 2020 election is due to begin in March, but prosecutors are trying to nullify his claims of immunity in the meantime.

US District Judge Tanya Chutkan rejected the claims on 1 December, which prompted Mr Trump’s appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

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His appeal suspended his trial.

In a bid to avoid delaying the trial, US Special Counsel Jack Smith on 11 December urged the Supreme Court to make an expedited ruling – even as the DC Circuit court races to rule on the issue.

If Mr Trump is re-elected to the White House on 5 November next year, he could seek to pardon himself of any federal crimes.

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