President Trump: Wayne County canvassers 'harassed violently'

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

President Donald Trump continued to make inaccurate statements Wednesday about the election process in Michigan's largest county and said the Republican canvassers who agreed to certify Wayne County's results had been "harassed violently."

The president, who lost Michigan by 154,000 votes on Nov. 3, made the comments while calling into a hearing in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, held by GOP state lawmakers there.

President Donald Trump calls into a hearing on the Nov. 3 election in Pennsylvania on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020.

Trump referenced the two Republican members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, who initially blocked certifying the county's results on Nov. 17 before voting to validate them. Canvassers Monica Palmer and William Hartmann were "afraid," the president said without mentioning them by name.

"They’re harassed violently, and they turned off the cameras during the harassment for two hours," Trump said. "Then, they said, 'Wow,' and they were afraid and they voted."

There were brief problems with the video feed for the Wayne County Board of Canvassers meeting but the feed didn't go down for two hours, as Trump stated.

In a signed affidavit released after the meeting, Palmer voiced concerns about the number of out-of-balance precincts in Detroit. For about 70% of the city's county boards for absentee ballots, the number of voters tracked in poll books didn't match the number of votes tallied — a fact that isn't direct evidence of fraud.

Palmer said she was later told by legal counsel that she couldn’t use her “discretion regarding the anomalies" and agreed to certify the results on the promise of a "full, independent audit."

“I believed I had no choice but to certify the results despite my desire to oppose certification based on the incomplete record,” she said.

Palmer told the Board of State Canvassers on Monday that she received threats against her family including receiving graphic images of naked, dead women and a photo of her daughter "letting me know that that's what's going to happen to my daughter." Palmer said she was also called a terrorist and told that "my entire family should be fearful for their lives." 

On Tuesday, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said her office was "actively investigating threats" made against members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers.

The Board of State Canvassers voted 3-0 to certify Michigan's results on Monday, cementing Biden's victory in the state. A fourth member of the board, Norm Shinkle, a Republican, abstained.

Rudy Giuliani, Trump's attorney, has said previously the campaign identified 300,000 "illegitimate ballots" in Michigan but hasn't provided evidence to back up the claim.

The president told Pennsylvania lawmakers on Wednesday there were "more votes than you have voters" in Detroit. He was likely referencing the out-of-balance precincts in the city because only half of the city's registered voters participated in the Nov. 3 election.

Wayne County election officials have said precincts in Detroit were out of balance by a few hundred votes out of 250,000. Data from the county shows the city's precincts were off by at least 441 votes.

That doesn't mean necessarily that there were more ballots cast than voters tracked because it's possible in some instances that ballots were allocated to the incorrect precincts and that there were fewer votes tallied than voters.