Former President Donald Trump touted the “explosive” 2020 election fraud lawsuit in Antrim County, Michigan, in a campaign call on Wednesday.
Trump spoke for roughly five minutes during a telephone town hall event for Matthew DePerno, a Republican candidate for Michigan attorney general who is spearheading the litigation, according to the Detroit News.
“The mistake had to be corrected,” Trump said. “We caught them. And they said, ‘Well, we made a little mistake.’ It wasn’t a mistake at all. It was being caught.”
DePerno became the face of the battle against officials over election results in Antrim County, a jurisdiction in northern Michigan with about 23,000 residents, in a lawsuit that initially focused on a local marijuana retailer proposal. He and his client, Antrim County resident William Bailey, alleged that the county voting machines were hacked, changing the votes, spurred on by the results initially showing President Joe Biden winning the race. But tabulation errors were quickly discovered, and once rectified, Trump was shown to be the victor.
State and county officials have blamed human error, a failure to update software properly across the county, for the mishap. The case was dismissed last year by 13th Circuit Court Judge Kevin Elsenheimer, after the plaintiffs were allowed to proceed with a “forensic audit” of the Dominion Voting Systems machines in the county on Dec. 6, 2020. Dominion CEO John Poulos blasted the report, which claimed there was a error rate of 68.05%, in a hearing with Michigan lawmakers, testifying that the findings were “categorically false” and released by a “biased group.” His company has filed multiple defamation lawsuits since the 2020 election.
DePerno’s lawsuit wasn’t quite dead on Wednesday after he appealed, and arguments were made last week in court about whether there was a need for more audits. However, on Thursday, a Michigan Court of Appeals panel rejected the appeal. DePerno has been touting the litigation as he campaigns ahead of the Michigan GOP convention this weekend.
DePerno is facing off against former House Speaker Tom Leonard and state Rep. Ryan Berman on the Republican side in a bid to unseat Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel. All three GOP candidates said they support a “forensic audit” of the 2020 contest in Michigan, a state won by Biden by more than 150,000 votes, according to Bridge Michigan. However, only one has Trump’s endorsement.
DePerno is a “conservative warrior and will never let you down,” Trump said in a plea to GOP delegates. “This choice is not just about 2022. This is about ensuring the state of Michigan cannot be stolen from Republicans in 2024, or ever again.”
A Republican-led Michigan Senate Oversight Committee report found the battleground state’s certified election results were accurate and devoted significant space to allegations of fraud in Antrim County, mentioning DePerno by name and calling his arguments “demonstrably false and based on misleading information and illogical conclusions.” Nessel is looking into the matter following a recommendation by the committee to investigate “those who have been utilizing misleading and false information about Antrim County to raise money or publicity for their own ends.”
Jocelyn Benson, Michigan’s secretary of state, wrote a letter to the House committee investigating the Capitol riot raising the prospect that the controversial analysis of Dominion Voting Systems machines — disputed by the company itself, state officials, and at least one election security expert — was instrumental to Trump’s claims of widespread fraud and challenges to the results of the contest.