Donald Trump launched an expansive campaign to convince more than 150 Republican officials to overturn election results in his favour, a new report claims.
A Politico report outlined the unprecedented steps Mr Trump took to convince Republican lawmakers at various levels of power to use their authority to overturn election results in his favour.
In one instance, Mr Trump contacted Monica Palmer, who sits on a board that confirms the election results for Wayne County, Michigan – the state’s most populous county.
Shortly after the call, Ms Palmer said she wanted to rescind her vote to authorise the election results, which showed that Joe Biden had won.
Though her efforts were ultimately in vain, they were just the beginning of Mr Trump’s attempts to sway lawmakers into fraudulently naming him the election victor.
Over the next month, Mr Trump contacted at least 31 Republican officials, primarily state and local officials in battleground states that he lost, the report says.
He called at least 11 people, and invited 20 Republicans to meet personally with him at the White House. The attendees included state attorneys general, party leaders, and lawmakers.
Politico spoke with 22 White House aides who described the president’s attempts to convince Republicans to overturn the election.
Despite his efforts, no Republican lawmakers were willing to play ball and fraudulently overturn their state’s election results or otherwise discount legally cast votes.
Even still, Mr Trump’s conspiracy theories alleging election fraud have caught on with his base, and have only been echoed and amplified by his loyalists like former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and conspiracy theorist lawyer Sidney Powell.
Mr Trump’s first strategy was to derail the election at the state and local levels by preventing key counties from certifying their results if they favoured Mr Biden.
At the time, Sen Mitt Romney criticised Mr Trump’s actions, calling them “undemocratic.”
“It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American president,” he said.
After his attempts to stop the certifications failed, he invited lawmakers from Michigan and Pennsylvania to meet with him at the White House.
While the details of those discussions are largely unknown, both groups of Republicans said they were committed to honouring the results of the elections in the areas they represent.
Later, Mr Trump became furious when Arizona governor Doug Ducey accepted the state’s election results that named Mr Biden the winner.
Mr Trump apparently called Mr Ducey – who set the president’s ringtone as “Hail to the Chief” – during a press conference, but Mr Ducey rejected the call.
After that, Mr Trump joined the election battle in Georgia, where the state’s Republican governor and secretary of state were besieged with conspiracy theories that the election result was fraudulent.
Republican senators from the state Kelly Loeffler and David Perude – who both face runoff elections in January which will determine the control of the Senate – called for the secretary of state to step down. Sen Lindsey Graham allegedly called the secretary of state and asked him to discount votes based on signature match loopholes. The senator denies the claim.
Mr Trump pressured Governor Brian Kemp to convene a special legislative session in order to appoint electors loyal to himself, which would have effectively overturned the state’s election results. He also pressed Mr Kemp to call for an audit of the state’s absentee ballots, which Mr Kemp explained he could not do.
Mr Kemp outright rejected Mr Trump’s plan to elect loyalist electors.
The president then threw his support in with an ill-fated lawsuit out of Texas challenging the election results in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia.
Georgia’s Attorney General Chris Carr was publicly critical of the lawsuit, calling it “constitutionally, morally and factually wrong.”
His criticism sparked a personal response from Mr Trump, who told him to stop criticising the lawsuit and to join it instead. Mr Trump wanted every Republican attorney general signed onto the lawsuit. While 17 agreed, nine refused.
Mr Trump then pressured Republicans in the House of Representatives to join in on the lawsuit: 126 Republicans agreed to join.
The president hoped the US Supreme Court would rule on the lawsuit, but the court rejected the case, bringing an end to the long-shot attempt to overturn the election.
Days after the Texas lawsuit failed, the electoral college met and certified the election results, confirming Mr Biden as the winner of the 2020 election.
Despite the electoral college announcement, Mr Trump continues to challenge the results. He is now backing a plan by Republican House members and potentially at least one senator – Tommy Tuberville – to object to the election results when Congress meets on 6 January to accept the election results.
Election experts say the objection will not change the results of the election, that it will only delay the process and further injure the American public’s trust in the electoral process.