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Stateside Podcast: Michigan ties to the Jan. 6 hearings

US capitol building
Wikimedia Commons
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Nearly a year and a half after the January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol, citizens and lawmakers alike are finally hearing evidence and putting the pieces together about the events leading up to and on that fateful day. Thursday marked the fifth day of hearings for the United States House Select Committee on the January 6 attack, but testimony from day four of hearings on Tuesday revealed new information about related events involving Michigan.

The committee heard recorded testimony from several Michigan lawmakers and officials at the Tuesday hearing, including Senate Majority leader Mike Shirkey, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, and former Michigan GOP Chairwoman Laura Cox.

New evidence heard on Tuesday was delivered by former Chairwoman Cox, who detailed an alleged plan to overturn election results involving fake electors that she heard about from a Hillsdale lawyer. According to Cox, a faction of Trump supporters planned to potentially stay overnight at the Michigan State Capitol Building in an attempt to pose as fake electors and intervene in the certification of the votes that would confirm Joe Biden as the winner of the Michigan presidential race. When presented with this plan, Cox testified that she told the lawyer it was “insane and inappropriate”.

The plan was an attempt to find a loophole in a Michigan state law that requires electors to meet in the Senate chambers on December 14. During his coverage of the 2020 Presidential race in Michigan, Craig Mauger of The Detroit News said he heard rumors of this plan prior to December 14, 2020. However, he did not hear the full story until he heard the testimony of Laura Cox at the Tuesday hearing.

That was a striking detail. It points to the lengths that these people were willing to go to try to overturn the results of the election,” said Mauger. “They were willing to have or consider having an 81 year old man sleep overnight in the Michigan Capitol Building to get around a security lockdown that was taking place to try to protect the actual electors. I mean, just think about that.”

Although this plan was only one part of similar plans that were allegedly orchestrated nationwide, it demonstrates a scenario in which some citizens willingly attempted to break the law on behalf of a U.S. President. According to Mauger, many of the people involved in the plot were “diehard Trump supporters” who believed it was their civic duty to intervene in the electoral vote.

“A lot of these people have been pumped with misinformation about fraud in the 2020 election, and they believe that taking this action was what they think was necessary to support the president. I don't think a lot of them fully understood what they were signing their name to,” said Mauger.

Despite the fact that private citizens were involved in the plan, the testimony delivered by Cox to the January 6 committee confirmed that other Republican party officials also had knowledge of the plan.

“It's something that people have to keep in mind is that there were a group of Republican state legislators who were openly involved with trying to walk these electors, these false electors from Michigan Republican Party headquarters into the Capitol building in some type of effort to disrupt or have a secondary Electoral College ceremony on December 14th, 2020,” said Mauger.

The details of the December 14, 2020 events are not only striking in the context of the January 6 attack on the US capitol, but also in the context of Michigan politics as a whole. According to Mauger, it raises many questions about the state of the Republican party in Michigan.

This is not about policy stances. It's not about prior votes they've taken. It's about what does Donald Trump think about these officeholders and how much influence is he willing to wield to try to sway their races,” said Mauger. “I mean, it all goes back to the hold that Donald Trump continues to have over the Michigan GOP.”

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Anna joined Stateside as an assistant producer in August 2021. She is a recent graduate of Michigan State University's School of Journalism and previously worked for The State News as an intern and student government reporter.
Rachel Ishikawa joined Michigan Public in 2020 as a podcast producer. She produced Kids These Days, a limited-run series that launched in the summer of 2020.