Trump Election Results: Tensions Rise as Allies Attack Process


The announcement late Wednesday about the Republican board members’ attempt to rescind their certification votes arrived in a news release from a public affairs firm based in Leesburg, Va., called ProActive Communications, which has done consulting work for Mr. Trump’s campaign and whose founder, Mark Serrano, has been a frequent television defender of the president’s. Mr. Trump’s 2020 operation paid the firm more than $2 million for its consulting services, according to records kept by the campaign finance website OpenSecrets.

The Wayne County canvassing board’s reversal on Tuesday was a distillation of these waning days of the Trump presidency — a clash over an attempt by Mr. Trump to present once more an alternative version of reality. With only minor irregularities reported, the two Democratic members were prepared to accept that Michigan had conducted a smooth election and to certify the results despite some minor errors, a routine step in the process. The Republican members, William Hartmann and Monica Palmer, had made clear in the days leading up to the meeting that they were prepared to accept Mr. Trump’s assertions that Democrats were stealing his presidency.

Ms. Palmer had raised questions on social media about Mr. Biden’s lead in the race in the days after the election, searching for discrepancies in online data from the secretary of state’s office. She also queried Republicans who had applied to be poll challengers at the T.C.F. Center in Detroit, where absentee ballots were counted, seeking examples of the party’s monitors being denied access.


Mr. Hartmann had filled his Facebook page with false allegations and conspiracy theories that the vote was manipulated against the president. One post included allegations about malfeasance in Detroit that a judge has called “not credible,” and another featured a video promoting a cornucopia of fraud allegations — including against Detroit — that have unraveled in court or been debunked by election officials. Mr. Hartmann also promoted a video from the right-wing cable network One America News that Facebook flagged as having “false information” about the coronavirus death rate.

Tuesday’s inflammatory meeting also drew attention to Mr. Hartmann’s social media feeds, where old posts showed racist depictions of President Barack Obama, whom Mr. Hartmann once referred to as a “Muslim President” (Mr. Obama is Christian).

Neither Ms. Palmer nor Mr. Hartmann responded to requests for comment, but Mike Shirkey, the Republican leader of the State Senate, said in a statement on Wednesday that there had been “disturbing reports of individuals who allegedly threatened the children of members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers.”

Ms. Hobbs, the secretary of state of Arizona, said her experience as a social worker had prepared her for “threats of violence and vitriol” and called them “abhorrent.” She said they would not prevent her from performing her duties. “Our democracy is tested constantly, it continues to prevail, and it will not falter under my watch,” she said.

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