In a contentious and unusual Michigan House Oversight Committee meeting Wednesday evening, President Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani pushed conspiracy theories about the integrity of the Michigan election, urging the legislators to defy the will of voters and deliver the state to Trump in the Electoral College. The hearing comes after Michigan verified its election results, declaring President-elect Joe Biden the winner of Michigan’s 16 electoral votes on Nov. 23.

Giuliani repeated the conspiracy theory promoted by the Trump campaign that Democrats stole the election in Michigan. 

“This is a swindle, a con-job, a theft of an election,” Giuliani said. “With all due respect to Detroit … It happens to be one of the most corrupt cities in the United States, by any measure.”

The in-person hearing led to multiple flashes of frustration between Giuliani, his witnesses; the Democratic representatives; and the Committee Chair Matt Hall, R-Emmett.

Audience members began cheering and shouting “fake news” multiple times during the hearing. At one point, Michigan state Rep. Cynthia Johnson, D-Detroit, grew frustrated and accused the witnesses of giving false statements. By the end of the hearing, Johsnon, Giuliani and Hall were all shouting over each other during questioning. 

“You’re allowing people to come in here and lie,” Johnson said to Hall. “And I know they’re lying.”

The hearing comes weeks after the Trump campaign continues promoting unsupported and blatantly false claims of election fraud, having either lost or withdrawn lawsuits in various states, including Michigan, that sought to achieve different election results. 

The day prior, Attorney General William Barr said the U.S. Justice Department has not found evidence of widespread voter fraud, directly contradicting Trump’s statements. Multiple federal officials who previously disputed Trump’s claims of fraud have been fired

Before Giuliani could begin testifying, Michigan state Rep. Darrin Camilleri, D-Brownstown, asked to swear Giuliani in as a witness to ensure his testimony was accurate. Hall denied the request, shouting back and gavelling him down. 

Though the committee can discuss or vote on bills to change the election process, they have no ability to audit results or order a recount. 

Giuliani spent the first hour asking Jessy Jacob, who worked at the Detroit TCF Center during the election, an extensive series of questions. Usually, only committee members question witnesses during the hearing. Each member was only permitted one question per witness following their testimony and Giuliani’s questioning.

Jacob presented multiple unfounded allegations of election misconduct. Though a driver’s license is not required to vote in Michigan, Jacob complained that other poll workers were not checking voters’ driver’s licenses. 

During the questioning, Michigan state Rep. David LaGrand, D-Grand Rapids, asked Jacob if she knew photo identification was not required to vote in Michigan. Voters without an eligible form of ID can still vote by signing a brief affidavit. After Jacob paused for an extended period of time, LaGrand told her she was “confused.” 

Melissa Carone, a freelance IT worker contracted to work during the election, said she witnessed thousands of ballots being counted multiple times and “knew for a fact illegal activity” was occuring. These claims lack any evidence and there is widespread consensus among election officials no illegal activity occurred. 

During questioning, Carone said she met Giuliani for the first time the previous day.

On Tuesday, the Michigan Senate Oversight Committee held a similar hearing and spent almost seven hours hearing testimony from citizens alleging misconduct at the Detroit TCF Center during the election, repeating claims that have been widely disproven

In a press release, Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, said he believes the hearings are a necessary forum for citizens to discuss their concerns.

“(We are) hearing from the many citizens who contacted the chair’s office to share their experiences related to the election,” Shirkey wrote. “The legislative process and our democracy benefit from the efforts of these two committees as the mountain of information in need of review presents an insurmountable task for a single committee effort.” 

Michigan House Minority Leader Christine Greig, D-Farmington Hills, disagreed, saying these hearings should end and Giuliani should not be allowed to testify. 

“It’s time … to end these endless partisan theatrics, and to focus on an orderly and peaceful transfer of power,” Greig wrote in a press release. “(Giuliani’s) campaign to disenfranchise millions of Michigan voters have no business in our state and certainly not before a House committee. … It is a travesty that Michigan’s Republican leaders have repeatedly infused chaos into our state’s pandemic response to score divisive, partisan political points.” 

Daily Staff Reporter Emma Ruberg can be reached at eruberg@umich.edu.

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