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Peters calls GOP lawmakers' plan to overturn Biden's win 'dangerous'

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Michigan Sen. Gary Peters denounced as irresponsible and "incredibly dangerous" the plans of a dozen of his Republican colleagues to reject President-elect Joe Biden's victory when Congress meets this week to tally the Electoral College votes. 

Peters, a Democrat from Bloomfield Township, said he is disappointed in the group of GOP lawmakers who say they intend to object Wednesday, even though their maneuver is not expected to keep Biden from taking office later this month. 

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters

"I'm very disappointed that they continue to press this narrative, which is damaging to our democracy. It's fundamental in a democratic republic that people believe that elections are free and fair — which they were in this election — and to sow mistrust damages our democracy," Peters said Sunday on a video call with reporters. 

"This is an incredibly dangerous thing that the senators are doing."

Peters' remarks followed a statement Saturday by a coalition of nearly a dozen senators, led by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, citing distrust among voters about the legitimacy of the election and saying they would reject electors from disputed states as not  ‘lawfully certified,' though they presented no legal basis for their claim.

Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley last week said he would join with House Republicans in objecting to the state tallies during Wednesday's joint session, over the objections of Senate GOP leadership.  

Michigan is expected to be among the states whose election results Trump allies might object to Wednesday, and Peters said he would fight those efforts. 

"We'll see how it unfolds, but it's certainly my intent to play an active role in pushing back on false statements made by individuals concerning the election in Michigan," Peters said. 

Despite President Donald Trump's last-ditch effort to overturn his defeat, Peters noted that even Attorney General Bill Barr and Trump's former director of homeland cybersecurity have confirmed there was no widespread fraud that would change the outcome of the Nov. 3 election. 

Biden won Michigan by over 154,000 votes, 51% to 48%, but Trump has continued to make false claims about "massive" fraud. Litigation over the election has been rejected over and over again in the courts. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had urged GOP senators not to try to overturn what nonpartisan officials concluded was a free and fair vote.

Peters suggested the group of senators is after "short-term political advantage," he said, but "it is irresponsible to damage this great democracy in our country, just because of their own selfish interest." 

"This election is over," Peters said. "We need to move forward." 

Peters was sworn into office Sunday for his second term, after winning reelection over GOP challenger John James 50% to 48% last fall. 

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, also condemned as a "stunt" the GOP lawmakers' plan, saying Sunday it's an "attack on our democracy." 

In an MSNBC appearance, she noted the eight failed lawsuits brought contesting Michigan's election and said the 12 GOP senators are effectively disregarding the will of hundreds of millions of voters.

In a nod to the Republicans seeking a 10-day emergency audit, she asked if they are also suggesting that their own reelections shouldn't count and, therefore, they shouldn't be sworn into office Sunday.

"We all know it's absurd. It is the worst kind of stunt because it damages people's belief in our Constitution, our democracy. And people around the world look at us and say, 'What's going on in America?'" Stabenow said. 

"The only good news is Donald Trump lost. He is not going to be president and January 20 is the day I'm counting as Happy New Year."

mburke@detroitnews.com