On Tuesday night, Mr. Trump called Monica Palmer, a Republican member of the canvassing board of Wayne County, which includes Detroit. Ms. Palmer was at the center of a fast-moving controversy over the routine certification of votes, when she and the other Republican board member at first declined to certify the county’s votes, then changed their mind, then rescinded again, saying the votes should not be certified. Ms. Palmer told The Washington Post that Mr. Trump had called to thank her, but that he did not pressure her.
Roughly 24 hours after that contact by the president, Ms. Palmer and the other Republican board member, William Hartmann, announced late Wednesday that they were reversing their move to certify the results. The announcement was accompanied by sworn affidavits alleging that they had been bullied into approving the certification despite their doubts about small discrepancies in many of the county’s precincts.
Their announcement and the affidavits were sent to reporters by a public relations firm called ProActive Communications, which has close ties to Mr. Trump and received about $2 million in payments from his campaign during the 2020 election cycle, according to records kept by the campaign finance website OpenSecrets. The firm, based in Virginia, did not answer questions about how it had come to represent Ms. Palmer and Mr. Hartmann.
ProActive later issued a statement explaining Ms. Palmer and Mr. Hartmann’s position from Phill Kline, the director of the Amistad Project, a legal initiative with the conservative public interest law firm the Thomas More Society. That firm lists Jenna Ellis, a senior legal adviser to the Trump campaign, as its “special counsel.”
In the statement, Mr. Kline said that the decisions by Ms. Palmer and Mr. Hartmann to rescind their votes for certification meant that Wayne County’s results remained uncertified.
But Michigan’s secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, said he was wrong.
“There is no legal mechanism for them to rescind their vote,” Tracy Wimmer, a spokeswoman for Ms. 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.”
At the White House, Mr. Trump has been toggling between appearing to recognize his loss and expressing bitterness and disbelief that a victory he believed was his was being taken from him, aides said. Bolstered by some core supporters, he has hardened in his belief that state legislatures could hold the keys to his political salvation.