Michigan Senate, House Close Offices Due To Threats Ahead Of Electors’ Meeting
Michigan’s Senate and House have closed their offices ahead of a meeting of the state’s Electoral College members scheduled for Monday, citing safety and security concerns.
State officials notified lawmakers and staffers on Sunday that no on-site visitors will be allowed on the premises and that employees will not be permitted to come in for any work resources, reported local outlet MLive.
The Capitol building will also be closed during the Electoral College proceedings, as state officials announced last week.
Demonstrators are expected to gather outside the Capitol on Monday as the state’s 16 electors convene inside at 2 p.m. to cast their votes for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
Amber McCann, a spokeswoman for Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R), said in a statement that the decision to close the buildings was “not made because of anticipated protests” but because of “credible threats of violence.”
The nature of these threats wasn’t immediately clear. Officials declined to release details about the potential danger.
McCann said the Senate closed based on “recommendations from law enforcement.” The Michigan State Police said they are monitoring social media and other communications for possible threats, but denied making any such recommendation to state officials, the Detroit Free Press reported.
House and Senate leadership made the call to close the facilities after conferring with the police, Gideon D’Assandro, a spokesman for state House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R), told the Free Press.
Michigan’s electors will reportedly receive police escorts during the proceedings. At least one elector has said she will wear a bulletproof vest as an extra precaution.
Michigan state Rep. Gary Eisen (R) suggested during an interview with a local radio station Monday that the state’s GOP was organizing some sort of “hail Mary” effort to block Democratic electors from casting their votes.
Eisen declined to provide specific details but described the event as “historic” and expected it to be “all over the news later on.”
When asked to confirm the event won’t be dangerous, Eisen said he couldn’t.
“I don’t know because what we’re doing today is uncharted,” Eisen told WPHM Radio. “It hasn’t been done. … There’s more to it than what I can say right now.”
Michigan House leadership removed Eisen from his committee assignments for the rest of the term in response to his comments, stating that public officials cannot “open the door to violent behavior and refuse to condemn it,” reported The Associated Press.
A spokesman for the Michigan Republican Party said the group is “unaware” of the event Eisen referred to during his radio appearance, reported local news outlet MLive.
Biden won Michigan by about 154,000 votes. State election officials certified the results on Nov. 23, despite efforts from President Donald Trump’s campaign to derail the process.
With the encouragement of the president, Trump supporters have staged so-called “Stop the Steal” protests across the country since Nov. 3, falsely claiming the election was “rigged” and demanding the results be overturned.
On Saturday, “Stop the Steal” demonstrations were held in several cities across the country, including in Atlanta and St. Paul, Minnesota. Trump supporters, including members of the far-right extremist group Proud Boys, clashed with counterprotesters in Washington, D.C., leading to at least four people being stabbed. At least one person was shot during unrest in Olympia, Washington, that night.
Democrats, election officials and some Republicans have called on Trump and his allies to stop peddling misinformation about the election, warning the divisive ― and false ― rhetoric could get someone killed.
Michigan, which Trump won in 2016, has been a hot spot for pro-Trump fervor in recent months.
In October, the FBI arrested and charged about two dozen people with plotting to kidnap the Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer. Several of the suspects, tied to a far-right militia group, had attended demonstrations at the state Capitol months earlier to protest Whitmer’s COVID-19 mitigation measures.
Trump had encouraged the protests. “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” he tweeted at the time.
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