Trump Call Dominates Georgia’s Senate Runoff as Candidates Make Final Bids

Date: 2021-01-04 21:40:39

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President Donald Trump sued Brad Raffensperger a few days before the phone call in which he told the Georgia secretary of state to “find” votes for him that is now being scrutinized for potential wrongdoing.

In one of his final acts of 2020, Trump filed a Dec. 31 federal lawsuit against Raffensperger and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp in a last-ditch effort to force the state to “de-certify” its election result and allow its GOP-led legislature to declare the winner instead. U.S. District Court Judge Mark Cohen in Atlanta set a hearing in the case for Tuesday morning.

The remedy Trump is seeking is almost certainly impossible. Congress votes to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory on Wednesday, and there are no remaining procedural steps before inauguration. Though some Republican members have said they will oppose certification, the outcome is not in doubt.

Trump’s latest suit rehashes conspiracy theories previously raised by his campaign and allies about rampant voter fraud in Georgia and accused the state of using improper rules for mail-in ballots. The president alleges Georgia allowed unqualified individuals, including felons and people who are underage, to register and vote. The president also claims Georgia accepted votes from dead people and violated state law by sending unsolicited absentee ballots to voters.

The suit complains that President-elect Joe Biden won the state by “only 11,779 votes” out of 5 million. That’s one less than the number of votes Trump told Raffensperger to “find” in the Jan. 2 call.

Judges across the country have rejected dozens of lawsuits that tried to reverse Trump’s loss by alleging rampant voter fraud by Democratic officials and election workers on top of unhinged conspiracies about voting machines being infiltrated by agents of China and Iran. Trump raised many of these theories in his call with Raffensperger, who denied them as false.

Trump’s federal suit made many of the same allegations as an earlier one his campaign filed in state court against Raffensperger. A trial in the state case is scheduled for Friday before Georgia Superior Court Judge Adele Grubbs in Atlanta, though it’s possible the Jan. 6 certification will render the case moot.

The voter-fraud claims being pushed by Trump and indulged by many congressional Republicans have prompted fears that democracy itself is under threat. Trump’s call with Raffensperger has intensified those concerns.

Former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman said in a Monday press call arranged by the nonprofit Voter Protection Program that the call “moved this to a totally different level” because the president was asking an election official to change the result.

“This is actually about trying to steal the election by calling for a specific number of votes,” Whitman, a Republican, said.

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