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Georgia’s governor is again telling lawmakers that he won’t call a special session to overturn Georgia’s election results and appoint 16 presidential electors who would support President Donald Trump instead of Democratic president-elect Joe Biden.
Republican Brian Kemp issued a joint statement Sunday with Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, saying it would violate state law for the General Assembly to name electors instead of following the current state law that calls for the governor to certify electors after results are certified. “Any attempt by the legislature to retroactively change that process for the Nov. 3rd election would be unconstitutional and immediately enjoined by the courts, resulting in a long legal dispute and no short-term resolution,” the two said in their statement.
Trump and Kemp spoke by phone hours before Trump held a rally on Saturday in Valdosta. The president asked Kemp to order the legislative session and the governor refused. According to a tweet from the governor, Trump also asked him to order an audit of absentee ballots from the presidential race in his state. Kemp has said he can’t do that because he has no authority to interfere in the electoral process on Trump’s behalf. Trump on Sunday tweeted more allegations that Georgia’s election was fraudulent, blaming Kemp and Duncan for inaction. “Has anyone informed the so-called (says he has no power to do anything!) Governor @BrianKempGA & his puppet Lt. Governor @GeoffDuncanGA, that they could easily solve this mess, & WIN. Signature verification & call a Special Session. So easy!”
Duncan and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger appeared on television Sunday to defend the integrity of the election. “I’m proud that we’re able to look up after three recounts and watch and be able to see that this election was fair,” Duncan said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Was it perfect? Absolutely not. I don’t know if any election was perfect in the history of this country.” “Right now, we don’t see anything that would overturn the will of the people here in Georgia,” Raffensperger said on ABC.
Gabriel Sterling, who’s in charge of implementing Georgia’s voting system, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Trump is inciting unrest. “The president’s statements are false. They’re disinformation. They are stoking anger and fear among his supporters. And hell, I voted for him. The situation’s getting much worse and it’s an environment that’s been built out over years,” Sterling said. State lawmakers could call a special session on their own, but only if 60% of members in both houses of the General Assembly demanded a session in writing. That’s unlikely, especially because more than 40% of the current members of the state House are Democrats.
The criticism comes a day after Trump headlined a two-hour rally in the state. The event was designed to whip up support for Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, who are locked in tight Jan. 5 runoff races with their respective Democratic challengers. Instead, Trump railed against Kemp, the news media and Democrats, suggesting that the election was plagued with widespread fraud and claiming that he had defeated Biden.
On Saturday, four Republican state senators including William Ligon of Brunswick, Greg Dolezal of Cumming, Brandon Beach of Alpharetta, and Burt Jones of Jackson launched a written petition trying to collect the signatures to force a special session. All four attended Trump’s rally Saturday in Valdosta. “I don’t believe that there’s the will in the General Assembly for a special session,” Raffensperger said. He said if lawmakers went ahead “they would be then nullifying the will of the people.” Kemp and Duncan said that going to court is “the only viable — and quickest option” for people challenging the results of Georgia’s presidential balloting (NY Post).
The lieutenant governor said he was encouraged by the parts of the speech in which the president urged his supporters to vote for Perdue and Loeffler. Duncan said at the time that he did not believe Kemp would call a special session of the legislature to overturn Biden’s victory in the state, something Trump had pressured Kemp to do in a phone call on Saturday. Trump also asked the governor to order an audit of absentee-ballot signatures, according to reporting from The Washington Post.
In his interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Duncan said he “absolutely” thought that Kemp would not accede to Trump’s demand that he persuade the state legislature to appoint electors who would override the popular vote and nullify Biden’s victory in the state. Despite Duncan’s statements, the president and his team continued their public pressure campaign. At his rally Saturday night in Valdosta, Ga., Trump briefly lashed out at Kemp for not embracing the allegations of fraud. “Your governor could stop it very easily if he knew what the hell he was doing,” Trump said. He added, “So far we haven’t been able to find the people in Georgia willing to do the right thing.”
On Sunday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, speaking as a Trump campaign adviser, said in a Fox News interview that “there is plenty” Kemp can do to aid Trump in overturning the results. Other officials cautioned that Trump’s rhetoric was putting local officials in danger.
On Sunday, Sterling said he decided to speak out after receiving a phone call from a project manager at Dominion Voting Systems, the company that has been at the center of the fraud claims by Trump and his allies. Sterling said the manager told him “in a very audibly shaken voice” that one of his contractors, “a young tech” in Georgia, had been receiving death threats. “He took a job a few weeks ago. He’s one of their better ones,” Sterling said on NBC News’s “Meet the Press.” “I was going through the Twitter feed on it, and I saw it basically had the young man’s name — it was a very unique name, so they tracked down his family and started harassing them. And it said, ‘His name, you have committed treason. May God have mercy on your soul,’ with a slowly swinging noose. And at that point, I just said, ‘I’m done.’ ”
Duncan echoed that message Sunday, telling CNN’s Jake Tapper that he, too, has been targeted by threats and that he and other officials have received increased security. Duncan also noted that he, Kemp, and Raffensperger (R) all voted for and campaigned for the president. Trump did not win the state, Duncan said, adding, “That doesn’t change our job description.”
In an interview Sunday on ABC News’s “This Week,” Raffensperger said that he has received death threats and that his wife has received “sexualized texts and things like that.” “And now they’ve actually gone after people, been following . . . young poll workers and election workers in Gwinnett County and also our folks at one of our offices,” Raffensperger said. “And so, you’re seeing just irrational, angry behavior. It’s unpatriotic. People shouldn’t be doing that.” Like Duncan, Raffensperger said that as a conservative Republican, he was disappointed with the election results but that there is no evidence of any fraud that “would overturn the will of the people here in Georgia.”
Asked about the possibility of a special session, Raffensperger said that the decision is not his to make but that such a move appeared unlikely. “I don’t believe that there’s the will in the General Assembly for a special session. . . . That’s with the governor and the General Assembly, and I’m sure they’ll have conversations,” he said. “But at the end of the day, what they’re really trying to say is, if they did that, they would be then nullifying the will of the people” (MSN).
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