After failing repeatedly in court to overturn election results, President Trump is taking the extraordinary step of reaching out directly to Republican state legislators as he tries to subvert the Electoral College process, inviting Michigan lawmakers to meet with him at the White House on Friday.
A source with knowledge of the trip said that Mr. Trump would meet with Michigan’s Senate majority leader, Mike Shirkey, and speaker of the House, Lee Chatfield, late Friday afternoon. Both lawmakers are Republicans who have said that whoever has the most votes in Michigan after the results are certified will get the state’s 16 electoral votes.
The White House invitation to Republican lawmakers in a battleground state is the latest — and the most brazen — salvo in a scattershot campaign-after-the-campaign waged by Mr. Trump and his allies to cast doubt on President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s decisive victory.
It comes as the Trump campaign and its allies have been seeking to overturn the results of the election in multiple states through lawsuits and intrusions into the state vote certification process, often targeting cities like Detroit, Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Atlanta with large and politically powerful Black populations. Mr. Trump himself reached out personally to at least one election official in Wayne County, Mich., home of Detroit, who tried to decertify the results there.
At the same time, he has made few public appearances since the election and his daily schedule often has no events on it, despite the worsening coronavirus pandemic.
Some members of Mr. Trump’s team have promoted the legally dubious theory that friendly legislatures could under certain scenarios effectively subvert the popular vote and send their own, pro-Trump delegations to the Electoral College.
Mr. Shirkey said in an interview earlier this week with Bridge Michigan, a local news outlet, that the Legislature would not move to appoint its own slate of electors, stating, “That’s not going to happen.”
The statewide canvassing board, a bipartisan four-member panel, is responsible for certifying Michigan’s election results by a Monday deadline. One of the Republican members of the board, Norm Shinkle, said in an interview on Thursday that he was coming under enormous pressure regarding his vote, which he said was complicated by a late night announcement from the two Republicans on the four-member canvassing board in Wayne County, which includes Detroit, that they wanted to “rescind” their votes to certify the county’s results.
Mr. Trump reached out Tuesday night to one of those Republicans, Monica Palmer, to thank her for her support, according to two people briefed on the call. Ms. Palmer and the other Republican board member, William Hartmann, had initially refused to certify the election results, before relenting Tuesday night after a public outcry and accusations that they were trying to disenfranchise voters in Detroit, which is more than three-quarters Black. Ms. Palmer and Mr. Hartmann are white.
On Tuesday, Mr. Shirkey condemned threats of violence received by members of the Wayne County board, and he indicated that the Legislature would conduct its own investigation, but that it was not its place to resolve questions about the election.
“Additional concerns have been brought before the courts, which is the proper place to resolve questions of legality surrounding the state elections process,” Mr. Shirkey said.
The Republicans sought to rescind the certification votes they had cast on Tuesday night through affidavits released late Wednesday night, roughly 24 hours after Mr. Trump had spoken with Ms. Palmer. But legally, functionally and practically, they cannot do so.
“There is no legal mechanism for them to rescind their vote,” Tracy Wimmer, a spokeswoman for Michigan’s top election official, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, said on Thursday. “Their job is done and the next step in the process is for the Board of State Canvassers to meet and certify.” That meeting is scheduled for next Monday.
The Trump campaign’s lead election lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, announced Thursday morning that the campaign was withdrawing a federal suit it had filed seeking to stop the certification of results in Wayne County. The campaign attached the affidavits to the dismissal notice.
Mr. Biden won nearly 95 percent of the vote in Detroit and around 70 percent of the vote in Wayne County en route to winning Michigan by more than 150,000 votes.
After Ms. Palmer and Mr. Hartmann initially refused to certify the election results over slight discrepancies in majority-Black precincts, while ignoring similar problems in heavily white areas of the county where Mr. Biden won a far smaller share of the vote, public outcry ensued, with 300 voters and civil rights leaders on a Zoom call expressing outrage.
Hours later, Ms. Palmer and Mr. Hartmann changed course and voted to certify. But in their affidavits the next day, they effectively said that they had been bullied into voting for the certification and that they did not believe the Democrats on the board were following through with their promise to ensure an independent audit of the Wayne County results.
The announcement about the Republicans’ attempt to rescind their certification votes arrived in a news release from a Virginia-based public-relations firm, ProActive Communications, that has been paid millions for consulting work for Mr. Trump’s campaign and whose founder, Mark Serrano, has been a frequent television defender of the president’s.
With the withdrawal of the Wayne County suit, the Trump campaign and its Republican supporters have now lost or withdrawn from all of their major legal actions in Michigan, although the state’s Supreme Court is still considering an appeal of a lower court’s decision not to halt the certification of Wayne County’s results.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. said on Thursday that President Trump was showing “incredible irresponsibility” by contesting the results of the presidential election and delaying the beginning of a transition process.
“Incredibly damaging messages are being sent to the rest of the world about how democracy functions,” Mr. Biden said, adding that Mr. Trump’s reaction would ensure that he is remembered “as being one of the most irresponsible presidents in American history.”
The president has continued to pursue lawsuits and peddle baseless conspiracy theories disputing his election defeat. “I don’t know his motive, but I think it’s totally irresponsible,” Mr. Biden said of Mr. Trump’s actions. “It’s hard to fathom how this man thinks. I’m confident he knows he hasn’t won, and is not going to win, and we’re going to be sworn in on Jan 20.”
Mr. Biden spoke in Wilmington, Del., shortly after a virtual meeting with several governors from both parties. The president-elect also said he had not ruled out taking legal action to force the head of the General Services Administration, Emily W. Murphy, to sign paperwork authorizing a presidential transition process that would give his team access to federal resources, data and personnel. But he played down that option, saying that lawsuits would “take a lot of time.”
As he has several times in recent days, Mr. Biden warned that the delayed transition process made it harder for him to plan an effective response to the coronavirus pandemic and that it could slow the nationwide distribution of vaccines.
“We can’t wait,” he said, calling vaccine distribution “one of the greatest operational challenges we will have faced as a nation.”
He added, “There is no excuse not to share the data and let us begin to plan.”
President Trump’s false accusations that voter fraud denied him re-election are causing escalating confrontations in swing states across the country, leading to threats of violence against officials in both parties and subverting even the most routine steps in the electoral process.
In courtrooms, statehouses and election-board meetings across the country, the president is increasingly using the weight of his office to deliver his message to lower-level election workers, hoping they buckle. It has not worked.
The extraordinary assault on the voting system by the president and his allies has taken on added intensity as the deadlines for certifying results in several states approach. Once certified, the final tallies will further complicate Mr. Trump’s attempt to overturn his loss. Here is a look at some of the states where tensions are rising and local officials are receiving threats of violence.
On Wednesday, the secretary of state, Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, lamented the “consistent and systematic undermining of trust” in the elections and called on Republican officials to stop “perpetuating misinformation.” She described threats against her and her family in the aftermath of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in her state.
In a state where Mr. Biden has clung to a narrow lead through a recount that was scheduled to have concluded Wednesday night, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, has said he, too, received menacing messages. He also said he felt pressured by Senator Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to search for ways to disqualify votes. The state faces a Friday deadline to certify its election results.
Republican state lawmakers advanced a proposal on Wednesday to audit the state’s election results that cited “a litany of inconsistencies” — a move Democrats described as obstructionist given Mr. Trump’s failure to present evidence of widespread fraud or other problems in a state where Mr. Biden’s margin of victory is more than 80,000 votes and growing.
Nowhere was the confusion and chaos more evident than in Michigan, where two Republican members of the canvassing board in Wayne County, which includes Detroit, initially refused to certify election results on Tuesday, then reversed their votes following a public outcry, only to attempt to rescind their approval the next day. State election officials said the board members could not rescind their votes. It was revealed on Thursday that Mr. Trump had called one of the Republican members to thank her for her support.
A little-known manufacturing executive serving out his final two years as majority leader of Michigan’s Republican-controlled Senate finds himself thrust into the maelstrom of President Trump’s scheme to subvert the election.
On Thursday, Mr. Trump invited Mike Shirkey, who turns 66 next month, to the White House with other Republican lawmakers — at a moment when he seems to be pressuring officials to overturn President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s decisive victory in the state by appointing new electors.
Mr. Trump may have a tough sell during the meeting, which is expected to take place on Friday, and also include the Republican speaker of the Michigan House, Lee Chatfield.
Mr. Shirkey has committed to heading a legislative probe into “numerous allegations” of election irregularities. But he has balked at overturning the results, and publicly questioned the president for not accepting an official accounting that shows Mr. Biden with a lead of nearly 150,000 votes.
Attempts to convince state lawmakers to change the election outcome in favor of Mr. Trump is “not going to happen,” he told the nonprofit publication Bridge Michigan on Tuesday before the dramatic 24 hours of back-and-forth actions of a four-member board charged with certifying elections in Wayne County.
“We are going to follow the law and follow the process,” said Mr. Shirkey, who endorsed Ben Carson in the 2016 primary but backed Mr. Trump in the general election. “I do believe there’s reason to go slow and deliberate.”
Mr. Shirkey added that he did not expect any of the Trump campaign’s legal challenges would “ultimately change the results of the election.”
He did not respond to requests for comment, and the White House did not say why he had been summoned.
As a Republican leader in his state, Mr. Shirkey has tried to maintain political equilibrium, opposing efforts by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, to close businesses and schools to fight the pandemic — while resisting efforts to impeach her.
Before being elected to the Senate in 2015, Mr. Shirkey served four years in the Michigan House of Representatives, worked for General Motors, and founded Orbitform, which produces prototypes for manufacturers at a facility in the southern part of the state.
He will be forced to retire under the state’s term limits law on Jan. 1, 2023.
In his interview with Bridge Michigan, he went further than most Republicans in accepting Mr. Biden’s win, urging Mr. Trump to begin facilitating the transition.
“I do think that it’s inappropriate for the Trump administration to not start sharing information,” Mr. Shirkey said.
Mr. Chatfield has been more equivocal, tweeting on Nov. 6 that every “legal vote needs to be counted” and “whoever gets the most votes will win Michigan! Period. End of story. Then we move on.”
Increasingly brazen attempts by President Trump to overturn the results of the 2020 election drew little response on Thursday from congressional Republicans, who have stood by the president’s side and declined to acknowledge President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory.
Among Republican leaders, only Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, challenged aspects of groundless claims about election wrongdoing put forward by Mr. Trump’s lawyers on Thursday, including that there had been nationally coordinated fraud by Democrats.
In an interview with Fox News’s Guy Benson, Ms. Ernst defended Mr. Trump’s right to challenge the results in court. But she stressed there needed to be “proof” of wrongdoing and called accusations by Sidney Powell, one of the president’s lawyers, that lawmakers in both parties had helped rig the balloting “absolutely outrageous.”
“That is an offensive comment for those of us that do stand up and represent our states in a dignified manner,” said Ms. Ernst, the fifth-ranking Senate Republican who was re-elected this month. “We believe in honesty.”
She added: “I’ve worn our nation’s uniform to protect the values and freedoms that our nation espouses and to have that accusation just offhandedly thrown out there just to confuse our voters across the United States, I think that is absolutely wrong.”
Ms. Ernst said she worried that sowing doubts about the election system could depress Republican turnout when voters in Georgia return to the polls in January for two runoff Senate contests, imperiling control of the Senate.
The pushback came as her colleagues in leadership in the House and Senate maintained a familiar silence.
A spokesman for Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, declined to comment on the claims made by Mr. Trump’s legal team or the president’s invitation to Michigan lawmakers to meet with him as he tries to subvert the Electoral College process and claim its electors despite losing the state.
Aides to Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican House leader; and his top deputies, Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Liz Cheney of Wyoming, did not respond to requests for comment.
Among the few direct critiques of Mr. Trump that emerged from a Republican was by Representative Francis Rooney of Florida, who is retiring.
“Talk of manipulating the Electoral College is a very dangerous thing to be discussing in our configuration of democracy,” Mr. Rooney said. “We are out in the thin air. We really are.”
He criticized his colleagues, who he said were “just hiding out” as the president steered toward ever more extreme claims.
“What about self-esteem or respect?” he said. “What are these people going to do in the long run when they look back at how they just sort of slavishly devoted themselves to this guy?”
Another retiring Republican, Representative Peter T. King of New York, said he was uneasy about the tone of the claims.
“The president has the right to have his lawyers investigate and look for recounts,” he said. “But I don’t think we should be describing the election as fraudulent until there is evidence submitted in court and accepted.”
“The rhetoric,” he added, “should be toned down.”
Senator David Perdue, one of two Republican senators from Georgia facing runoff elections in January, began making large and ultimately profitable purchases of shares in a Navy contractor in 2018 just before taking over as chair of a Senate subcommittee overseeing the Navy fleet.
The disclosure, first reported Wednesday by The Daily Beast, comes as both Mr. Perdue and Georgia’s other senator, Kelly Loeffler, have been under fire for their stock trades.
Mr. Perdue, a millionaire and formerly a prolific trader of individual stocks, announced in May that he would divest from his large individual stock holdings after questions were raised about his well-timed purchases of Pfizer stock in February, after senators were briefed on the coronavirus threat.
“Senator Perdue doesn’t manage his trades, they are handled by outside financial advisors without his prior input or approval,” a spokeswoman for Mr. Perdue said in response to the report about Mr. Perdue’s trades in shares of the Navy contractor, BWX Technologies.
Mr. Perdue bought a total of $38,000 to $305,000 worth of BWX on dates when prices averaged about $40 per share and never closed above $43, according to a Times analysis of Senate filings. He sold his stock on dates in 2019 when prices averaged more than $50 per share and never closed below $49. The filings give only a value range for stock transactions, making it impossible to know how many shares are bought and sold
Mr. Perdue purchased his shares of BWX, which supplies nuclear components and fuel for submarines and aircraft carriers, in the six weeks before the January 2019 announcement that he would take over as chair of the Senate Armed Services SeaPower subcommittee.
Mr. Perdue sold his positions in BWX between February and July 2019. In June of that year, he announced that he had helped push through additional funding for the Navy in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020, including money for an extra submarine.
As subcommittee chair, Mr. Perdue has been a strong proponent of increasing Navy spending. “In this era of great power competition, there is no question our Navy needs to grow larger and become more capable,” he told a committee meeting in December 2019, after he had sold his BWX shares.
While not officially prohibited, individual stock trades by members of Congress have long raised questions, according to Kedric Payne, general counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan watchdog group.
“This is just a perfect example of why many members of Congress have decided on their own to not trade individual stocks, even though there is no evidence of insider trading. It still begs the question of whether his official actions are somehow motivated by personal interest.”
“David Perdue’s corruption and self-dealing are flagrant,” Mr. Ossoff said in response to the Daily Beast article. “He is blatantly exploiting his office to line his own pockets. This conduct is utterly inexcusable.”
A spokesman for BWX Technologies, Jud Simmons, said the company was not aware that Mr. Perdue had been a shareholder until recent media reports. “Like other companies, BWX Technologies is not aware of, and does not control, purchases of its stock by individuals,” Mr. Simmons said.
Hispanic lawmakers in Congress are calling on President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. to name five Latinos to his cabinet, the latest effort in a broader push for Latino representation throughout the incoming administration.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus made that request in a letter on Thursday to Jeffrey D. Zients, a chair of the Biden transition.
The letter, which was obtained by The New York Times, also urged Mr. Biden to put at least one Latino in the top four cabinet positions — secretary of state, Treasury secretary, defense secretary and attorney general — and said it was “imperative that Latinos account for about 20 percent of personnel across all suites of federal government.”
The Biden transition did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The letter from Hispanic lawmakers comes amid an effort by Latino organizations, called Proyecto 20%, that seeks to ensure that at least 20 percent of Mr. Biden’s political appointees across the federal government are Latino.
Mr. Biden has promised an administration that “looks like America.” He has previously objected to committing to appointing a certain number of Latino cabinet members, but he has promised to have Latino representation in his cabinet.
At an event in Nevada in January, Mr. Biden was asked if he would commit to having four Latino cabinet members. He declined to commit to a number but said, “There will be a significant number of Latinos in my cabinet, and you’ll see Latinx women in my cabinet.”
In a blow to the Trump administration’s efforts to strip unauthorized immigrants from census totals used for reapportionment, Census Bureau officials have concluded that they cannot produce the state population totals required to reallocate seats in the House of Representatives until after President Trump leaves office in January.
The president said in July that he planned to remove unauthorized immigrants from the count for the first time in history, leaving an older and whiter population as the basis for divvying up House seats, a shift that would be likely to increase the number of House seats held by Republicans over the next decade.
But on Wednesday, according to three bureau officials, the Census Bureau told the Commerce Department that a growing number of snags in the huge data-processing operation that generates population totals had delayed the completion of population calculations at least until Jan. 26, and perhaps to mid-February. Those officials spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals from the Trump administration.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose department oversees the bureau, was informed of the holdup on Wednesday evening, those people and others said. The Commerce Department and the Census Bureau did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Under law, the White House must send a state-by-state census tally to the House of Representatives next year which will be used to reallocate House seats among the states. On Mr. Trump’s order, the Census Bureau is trying to compile a separate state-by-state tally of unauthorized immigrants, in order to subtract those people from official census results before they are dispatched to the House.
That cannot happen — and Mr. Trump’s plan will become moot — if the census totals are not completed before Mr. Trump leaves office on Jan. 20.
It is possible that the administration could still order the bureau to produce the state-by-state population data before the president’s term ends, regardless of problems that affect its accuracy. But experts on census issues said it was unclear whether the bureau’s career staff — data scientists and other experts who have devoted their careers to an accurate head count — would carry out such an order or instead resign en masse.
The ramifications of the president’s order extend well beyond the House. Excluding unauthorized immigrants from population totals could drastically alter the allotment of federal dollars for a broad range of services, generally shifting grants and government resources from cities to less populated areas.
PERRY, GA — Republican senators toed a careful line in central Georgia on Thursday, seeking to rally their base for the January runoff without acknowledging the reality that President Trump lost his bid for re-election.
The event, a joint rally with the state’s two senators, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, and Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, framed the runoff election as Republicans’ last line of defense against a unified Democratic White House and Congress. However, Republicans carefully avoided any mention of Mr. Trump, who has yet to concede the race and has peddled baseless conspiracy theories about the national electorate and election administration in Georgia.
After the rally, Mr. Cotton was asked if he was implicitly acknowledging that President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. had won the election. He deflected and said Georgia was “in the middle of a recount right now and we’ll see what happens.”
He added: “But we have to be prepared for that. We have to be prepared for Joe Biden winning.”
Mr. Perdue framed the battle for control of the Senate as an existential one for the country.
“God has put us in this position to tell the world what America is going to be for the next 50 to 100 years.”
The rally came at a time of extraordinary political turmoil in Georgia and across the country. The state, which voted for a Democrat for the first time since 1992, has faced criticism from Republicans and Mr. Trump for its election administration, even though no evidence of voter fraud has emerged.
Mr. Perdue and Ms. Loeffler have called for the resignation of Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, a fellow Republican. Mr. Raffensperger has fired back in several interviews, saying the politicians were eroding trust in democracy for political gain.
The divisions were reflected among the rallygoers at Thursday’s event, which was hosted at the Georgia National Fairgrounds in Mr. Perdue’s home county. In interviews before the event, which was also a chance for Mr. Cotton to showcase himself as a possible presidential candidate in a battleground state, residents were united in their distaste for Mr. Raffensperger.
U.S. elections officials have deemed the election this month the safest in American history and there has been no credible evidence of fraud. Despite that, several attendees at the Georgia rally said they did not trust the results and supported Mr. Trump’s unwillingness to concede.
“I think Joe Biden stole it,” said David Adcock, who is 70. “That’s the only way I see it.”
Business leaders in Washington and on Wall Street are increasingly calling on the Trump administration to recognize Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the presidential election and initiate a formal transition ahead of Mr. Biden’s inauguration in January.
Some of the biggest corporate lobbying groups — including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers — supported President Trump in his push to cut taxes and roll back regulations while in office but are now breaking with the president as he pushes unfounded claims of fraud and wages a protracted court battle in an attempt to overturn the election results.
The business pressure comes as the General Services Administration refuses to issue a letter of “ascertainment,” which would allow Mr. Biden’s transition team to begin the transfer of power, and as top Republicans refuse to formally concede that Mr. Trump lost. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, has yet to recognize Mr. Biden’s victory publicly, but said this week that there would be an “orderly transition of power” before the next inauguration.
The National Association of Manufacturers on Wednesday called on the head of the G.S.A. to formally initiate the transition between Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden.
“It’s imperative that our nation has a president and advisors who are fully prepared to lead our nation on Inauguration Day given the magnitude of the challenges ahead and the threats to our economic and national security, and most importantly, to the public health,” wrote the manufacturing group’s leaders, including its president and chief executive, Jay Timmons, and the chief executives of the chemicals giant Dow and Trane Technologies.
“We call on the Trump administration to work cooperatively with President-elect Biden and his team,” the letter said.
On Thursday, the chief executive of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Tom Donohue, told Axios that “while the Trump administration can continue litigating to confirm election outcomes, for the sake of Americans’ safety and well-being, it should not delay the transition a moment longer.”
As President Trump and his Republican allies continue trying to undermine the election, the certification of the vote totals in each state is the next major step in formalizing President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory.
Here’s a breakdown of the certification deadlines between now and Inauguration Day.
Friday, Nov. 20: Georgia
There is a 5 p.m. Friday deadline for officials to certify election results in Georgia, which Mr. Biden won.
The Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, has said the state will meet the Friday deadline despite having conducted a hand recount of the five million ballots cast there.
Monday, Nov. 23: Michigan, Pennsylvania, Maine
Mr. Biden won these states, though Mr. Trump won one electoral vote in Maine’s Second Congressional District.
In Michigan, the Board of State Canvassers has scheduled a meeting on Monday. Despite Republican protests over the certification of results in Wayne County, the state is expected to certify on time.
Monday is also the deadline for counties in Pennsylvania to certify their totals and send them to Kathy Boockvar, the secretary of the commonwealth, who will certify the state results.
Maine’s certification deadline is also Nov. 23.
Tuesday, Nov. 24: Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio
This is the certification deadline for Minnesota, North Carolina and Ohio, none of which are expected to be contentious. Mr. Biden won Minnesota; Mr. Trump won North Carolina and Ohio.
Monday, Nov. 30: Arizona, Iowa, Nebraska
Arizona has to certify its results by this date, as do Iowa and Nebraska. Mr. Biden won Arizona; Mr. Trump won Iowa; Mr. Trump won statewide in Nebraska, but Mr. Biden won one electoral vote in the state’s Second Congressional District.
The Arizona Republican Party is trying to delay certification and asking a court to postpone certification in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix.
In the absence of a court order, Arizona counties are expected to certify on time. Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, is expected to sign off on the statewide certification.
Tuesday, Dec. 1: Nevada, Wisconsin
This is the deadline for Nevada and Wisconsin, both of which Mr. Biden won, to certify their results.
In Nevada, the first step is for county commissioners to certify the results and send them to the secretary of state. Ultimately, the governor will need to confirm the outcome. The Trump campaign has filed a lawsuit baselessly claiming that the president actually won Nevada, and conservative groups are trying to nullify the results, but these claims are highly unlikely to lead anywhere.
Wisconsin has already completed county-level certification, but the Trump campaign is seeking a partial recount, which, if it proceeds, should be complete by the deadline and is not expected to alter the results significantly.
Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law who emerged during the 2020 presidential campaign as a defender of President Trump’s basest political instincts, is now eyeing a political future of her own in her home state of North Carolina.
As Mr. Trump attempts to subvert the election to remain in power, Ms. Trump, three allies said, has been telling associates she is considering a run for Senate in 2022, in what is expected to be a competitive race for the first open Senate seat in a generation in a very swingy swing state. Senator Richard Burr has said he will retire at the end of his term.
Mr. Trump won North Carolina by a smaller margin than he did four years ago, just 1.3 percentage points, a sign that overall the state is trending blue and that the race for the Senate seat will be tightly contested in the first post-Donald Trump election.
Ms. Trump, 38, a former personal trainer and television producer for Inside Edition, wed Eric Trump at the family’s Mar-a-Lago estate in 2014 and worked as a senior adviser on the 2020 Trump campaign. Now, the daughter-in-law whom Mr. Trump had often joked to donors that he “couldn’t pick out of a lineup” is floating herself as the first test of the enduring power of the Trump name.
Ms. Trump declined to comment about her plans.
It’s not apparent that simply having the family backing would empty, or even diminish, the field in what is expected to be one of the most targeted seats in the nation where Republican candidates with experience in the state are already lining up.
There’s Representative Mark Walker, a Trump ally whom the president has encouraged to run for Mr. Burr’s seat, and indicated he would support. There’s Pat McCrory, the former governor, who has said he is eyeing the seat. Tim Moore, the North Carolina Speaker of the House, is said to be in the mix. And Dan Forest, who just lost a race for governor against the Democratic incumbent, Roy Cooper, is expected to be in the field.
And then there is another contender from the president’s inner circle: Mark Meadows, the former North Carolina representative and White House chief of staff, is widely expected to move back home and run for the seat. Aides to Mr. Meadows declined to comment about his political future.
But none of those more experienced candidates have the name recognition and the ability to raise big online cash that the president’s daughter-in-law has. “She would be formidable,” said Kellyanne Conway, a former White House official and the 2016 Trump campaign manager.