Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said Friday that President Trump is “essentially trying to steal the election for himself” and called on more Republican leaders to join GOP officials like Mitt Romney and Charlie Baker in condemning his refusal to concede the race to Democratic President-elect Joe Biden.
“The President of the United States of America is calling state officials to pressure them to not count the votes of Black voters,” Healey, a Democrat who’s repeatedly sued the Trump administration, said Friday afternoon via Twitter. “This conduct raises serious criminal issues.”
Asked in a follow-up phone interview to elaborate, Healey cited the reversal of two election officials in Wayne County, Michigan, which includes the heavily Black and Democratic city of Detroit, who’ve said they only voted to certify the results showing a big win locally for Biden after “hours of sustained pressure” and after getting promises that their concerns about the election would be investigated.
State officials said the certification of the Detroit-area vote will stand. The two Republican election officials initially voted against certification Tuesday, leaving the Wayne County Board of Canvassers deadlocked at 2-2 along party lines. And a person familiar with the matter told the Associated Press that Trump reached out to the two officials Tuesday evening after the revised vote to express gratitude for their support.
“The fact that President Trump reached out to them as local election officials is highly improper and concerning,” Healey said, adding that she’s also troubled by reports that Trump summoned Michigan’s two top Republican state lawmakers to the White House Friday amid his campaign’s ongoing bid to overturn election results in their state, which Biden won by more than 155,000 votes.
“We need to see more people, more national Republicans speaking up for the rule of law,” Healey said, citing Republicans Baker, Romney and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan for publicly calling on Trump to begin the transition process. “What was happening this afternoon, this is not normal. This is not OK. ... Those [Michigan] legislators should not have gone to the White House. For their own interest, they should not have gone there.”
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters during an earlier briefing Friday that the meeting between Trump and the Michigan legislators was “not an advocacy meeting. There will be no one from the campaign there. He routinely meets with lawmakers from all across the country.”
Asked Friday if she believes Trump will face criminal charges for his post-election maneuvering or for anything else, Healey, who earlier in the interview had said election tampering carries potential criminal and civil liability, demurred.
“The president, his enablers and others have engaged in conduct that raises serious legal questions,” Healey said when asked about the possibility of criminal charges. “And I expect and hope that those with the information are applying the facts and the law and will hold those accountable who need to be held accountable.”
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Christina Prignano of the Globe Staff also contributed.