New report exposes Trumpworld connections to a plot to 'strong-arm' elections officials in Michigan

New report exposes Trumpworld connections to a plot to 'strong-arm' elections officials in Michigan
President Donald J. Trump recognizes former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani prior to signing H.R. 1327; an act to permanently authorize the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Monday, July 29, 2019, in the Rose Garden of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

Michigan is one of the states where former President Donald Trump and his lawyers, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, unsuccessfully tried to overturn Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 presidential election. Reporter Mardi Link, in an article published by the Traverse City Record Eagle this week, discusses events in Michigan in late November — when some pro-Trump GOP operatives showed up to examine election data.

The operatives, according to Link, went to Antrim County, where they "identified themselves to township officials as representing Rudy Giuliani's legal team" and "accessed official election data in at least one township, according to local officials." On Nov. 27, Link notes, they examined "two separate paper totals tape" from a precinct tabulator.

Antrim County Clerk Sheryl Guy told the Record Eagle, "They made calls to township people on Thanksgiving Day to set all this up. They were strong-arming local clerks to get in and see those machines. Some clerks said 'no' or didn't answer their phones. And as soon as we could, we sent out an e-mail telling the clerks not to let them in. Then, we learn after the fact, they'd already been in three different locations."

One of the Republican operatives who showed up in Antrim County on Nov. 27, according to Link, was Katherine Friess — a Washington, D.C.-based attorney known for her connection to Trump allies Roger Stone and Paul Manafort (both of whom were prosecuted on multiple criminal charges and sentenced to prison during Trump's presidency but received presidential pardons from him).

Link reports that according to local Antrim County officials, Friess "bragged" about dining with Trump and Giuliani. The attorney serves as CEO of the lobbying firm, Global Policy Partners, and she previously worked for BKSH & Associates — a Washington-based lobbying firm that was created when, in 1996, two firms merged: Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly (abbreviated as BMSK) and attorney Martin B. Gold's Gold & Liebengood. Long before Trump's presidency, Manafort and Stone worked together at BMSK during the 1980s.

Link explains, "The operatives who visited Antrim County on Nov. 27 included some of the same people who performed a court-sanctioned forensic exam of the county's voting equipment on Dec. 6, as part of a lawsuit filed by Central Lake Township resident Bill Bailey against the county, citing its use of Dominion Voting Machines equipment."

A debunked conspiracy theory that Trump's allies promoted following the 2020 election involved Dominion, whose equipment they falsely claimed was used to help Biden steal the election. Pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell falsely claimed that Dominion's equipment was also used to help the late President Hugo Chávez commit election fraud in Venezuela — which, according to Dominion, would have been impossible because its equipment has never even been used in that South American country.

In February, Dominion filed a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, a far-right Trump supporter, for falsely claiming that its machines rigged the 2020 election in Biden's favor — a claim there is zero evidence of. And Dominion, in January, filed a separate $1.3 million defamation lawsuit against Giuliani.

The Traverse City Record Eagle interviewed Saginaw, Michigan-based attorney Greg Schmid to discuss the GOP operatives who showed up in Antrim County on Nov. 27. According to Schmid, those visits weren't illegal but probably needed a Freedom of Information Act request.

"Guy confirmed no FOIA had been filed requesting access, which Schmid said he found troubling — adding that without such a request, the clerks were well within their rights to simply refuse entry," Link reports.

Schmid told the Record Eagle, "The township clerk had the voting record lawfully, and anybody can knock on the door and ask for anything, but the clerk also could have refused — and without a FOIA, no one could have forced it."

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