GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has received her share of threats in the wake of the November 2020 election, but only now have we learned that one death threat allegedly came from the president of the United States.
In an interview this week with NBC News, Benson revealed for the first time that a White House source told her that Trump suggested in a private meeting that Benson should be arrested for treason and executed.
Benson said the moment she heard the news, she felt “surreal” and “sad.”
“It certainly amplified the heightened sense of anxiety, stress and uncertainty of that time — which I still feel in many ways — because it showed there was no bottom to how far he (Trump) and his supporters were willing to stoop to overturn or discredit a legitimate election,” Benson told NBC News.
Taylor Budowich, the director of communications for Trump and Save America, called Benson’s comments a complete lie, accusing Benson of intentionally lying in her interview. He also took to social media, accusing NBC News of “lazy” reporting.
Eighteen months after the presidential election was decided, a large portion of the country still believes the election was “stolen” and the target of widespread fraud. The latest polling from NBC News found approximately 38% of American voters still believe the election was rigged, even though audits in 39 states — including Michigan — found no concrete evidence of those claims. The results have also been affirmed by more than 60 courts.
Michigan’s Senate Oversight Committee did its own investigation. The committee — which is controlled by Republicans — published a 55-page report that said there was no systemic fraud in the election, and even called on Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel to investigate people who pushed the conspiracy theories “for their own personal gain.”
The report called out two people specifically for their role in spreading “The Big Lie:” former State Senator Patrick Colbeck and Portage lawyer Matthew DePerno, who has gone on to informally win the Republican nomination to challenge Nessel for the role of attorney general.
Former President Trump still maintains the election was stolen and has endorsed many people who have parroted his talking points for positions that handle elections. According to NBC News, 24 states will cast votes for positions that handle elections. Of the 24, 14 states have candidates that maintain the 2020 election was fraudulent, including Michigan.
Kristina Karamo informally earned the Republican nomination to challenge Benson in April. She has been a vocal critic of Benson and the 2020 election, filing her own report as a self-appointed poll watcher at the TCF Center in Detroit.
In his endorsement for Karamo, Trump said, “She is strong on crime, including the massive crime of election fraud.”
“’The Big Lie’ is not just spreading, but it’s deepening its hold on the American people,” Benson told NBC News.
In a statement to News 8, Tracy Wimmer, a spokesperson for Benson’s office, reiterated the comments and said it is only one of many threats that election officials across the country have endured in order to protect the integrity of our elections.
“(The threats need) to stop, and that’s why (Secretary Benson has) made $8 million available for local clerks to bolster election security and called on Michigan lawmakers to increase penalties for those who threaten, dox, or harass election officials so that they can continue to do their jobs with integrity,” Wimmer said in a statement.