Trump supporters in Michigan seek 'truth' about election

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Hundreds of President Donald Trump's supporters gathered Wednesday outside the Michigan Capitol, where they continued to question President-elect Joe Biden's 154,000-vote victory in the state.

The event, which featured speeches from one Republican current state House member and one GOP former state senator, had been described as a "prayer" gathering but many participants carried signs that falsely claimed Michigan's election was stolen.

A sign posted on a truck nearby said, "Civil war is coming. Join us or leave."

The Lansing demonstration occurred as chaos was breaking out at the U.S. Capitol with protesters there breaching the building and disrupting the U.S. House and Senate sessions where electoral votes were going to be counted. One person was shot, and an unidentified number of Capitol Police officers were injured. 

Todd Neason, Middleville, MI, raises his hands in praise as Trump supporter kneel as they pray in front of the Michigan Capitol.

The Michigan House and Senate were not in session on Wednesday.

Former state Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, led the crowd in Lansing in a prayer, asking for God to "let the light of your truth be shed here soon on everything that's going on."

"We know that they're not going to get away with this again," he prayed. "We know how the story ends, God. Today is going to be one of the most consequential days in our nation's history."

The president's supporters in Lansing stood in the snow and listened to a speech Trump gave in Washington, D.C., which was played over loud speakers.

The answer to what's happening in the country is prayer, not violence, said Rick Warzywak, one of the organizers.

"We want truth and integrity across America because it impacts our children and grandchildren," Warzywak said.

Biden won Michigan by 154,000 votes, 14 times Trump's margin of victory in the state four years earlier. But Trump's backers have raised unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud and pushed to discredit the election's result.

Warzywak said the group wants to see forensic audits done in seven battleground states. Asked what the effort would entail, Warzwak said he wants people to examine the voting machines.

State Rep. Steve Carra, R-Three Rivers, was the lone current state lawmaker to speak at the event. He told the crowd that he and other Michigan legislators had signed a letter asking Vice President Mike Pence to decertify the election's results in five states.

The letter, which was signed by lawmakers from five battleground states, asks Pence "to afford our nation more time to properly review the 2020 election by postponing the January 6th opening and counting of the electoral votes for at least 10 days."

In addition to Carra, 10 other Michigan House members signed the letter.

"There's too many irregularities and inconsistencies with the election. And I don't think it's healthy for the nation with the uncertainty of who won," Carra said in an interview afterward. "When we see a 154,000 alleged vote difference, I should be 99.999% sure that Biden won in Michigan. But I'm only 80% sure."

State of MI Rep. Steve Carra addresses the crowd.

Asked what fraud he had seen, Carra focused on poll challenger access and on signature checks for absentee ballots. However, the Board of State Canvassers has certified Michigan's election. On overturning the result, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, has said lawmakers "have not discovered anything yet that would cause me to want to take that kind of dramatic action in Michigan."

Still, Colbeck contended Biden is not the president-elect.

"It is propaganda. They are trying to convince you of that," he said.

Mike Detmer, a Republican who last year unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination in Michigan's 8th Congressional District, told the crowd it was time to "upend our political system."

Frank Hoffman, of Howell, holds up his Thou Shalt Not Steal sign during the rally.

"We've got to either change the Republican Party from within or get rid of it," Detmer said. "Because they are no longer the party of opposition. They are the party of capitulation."

Detmer and others in the crowd focused anger at Vice President Mike Pence for not helping Trump challenge the election's outcome. Detmer said he hoped news that Pence wouldn't block the election's certification Wednesday was hearsay.

Pence said before the congressional meeting started that he would not try to block the votes for Biden.

"If not, we can add one more to the traitor column, can't we?" Detmer said about Pence, a Republican former governor of Indiana and longtime GOP congressman.