Georgia governor, defying Trump, says he'll 'follow the law' on election results

Georgia officials on Monday responded to a barrage of attacks by President Trump by saying they would continue to “follow the law” on counting votes and certifying the election results, which show a narrow win by President-elect Joe Biden.

Trump has asked Gov. Brian Kemp to intervene and overrule his secretary of state, who has maintained that the election in the state was conducted honestly.

“Georgia law prohibits the governor from interfering in elections,” a spokesman for Kemp said in a statement. “The Secretary of State, who is an elected constitutional officer, has oversight over elections that cannot be overridden by executive order.

“As the governor has said repeatedly, he will continue to follow the law and encourage the Secretary of State to take reasonable steps — including a sample audit of signatures — to restore trust and address serious issues that have been raised,” the spokesman added.

The statement came after Trump wondered why Kemp, who he called “hapless,” would not use “his emergency powers” to overrule Georgia’s top election official, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

Kemp and Raffensperger are both Republicans. Trump endorsed Kemp when he ran in 2018, and Raffensperger said he and his family voted for and donated to Trump but “are now being thrown under the bus by him.”

President Trump returns to the White House Sunday after spending the weekend at Camp David and the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
President Trump returns to the White House Sunday after spending the weekend at Camp David and the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

“Why won’t Governor @BrianKempGA, the hapless Governor of Georgia, use his emergency powers, which can be easily done, to overrule his obstinate Secretary of State, and do a match of signatures on envelopes,” Trump tweeted. “It will be a ‘goldmine’ of fraud, and we will easily WIN the state.”

The president provided no evidence to support his fraud claim. Checking signatures on ballot envelopes could show that some ballots were illegitimate — but not which ones, since the envelopes are separated from the ballots once they are opened. The only apparent remedy would be to throw out all the votes in a given county, which would be an unprecedented and radical step that no court is likely to accept.

“Also, quickly check the number of envelopes versus the number of ballots,” Trump continued. “You may just find that there are many more ballots than there are envelopes. So simple, and so easy to do. Georgia Republicans are angry, all Republicans are angry. Get it done!”

At a press briefing Monday, Raffensperger said his office is, in fact, investigating one specific allegation that the number of absentee ballots outnumbered absentee envelopes in Gwinnett County. But the vast majority of fraud claims being brought to his office are not credible.

“The truth matters,” Raffensperger said. “There are those who are exploiting the emotions of many Trump supporters with fantastic claims, half-truths and misinformation, and frankly they are misleading the president as well, apparently.”

Raffensperger added that a second recount requested by the Trump campaign would be completed by Wednesday at midnight. The first, which was triggered by a mandatory audit of the results and completed on Nov. 20, showed that Biden won Georgia by more than 12,000 votes, 2,475,141 to 2,462,857.

In a telephone interview Sunday — his first since losing the Nov. 3 election — Trump falsely claimed to Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo that he “won the election easily”; that his own Department of Justice and the FBI are failing to investigate his allegations of rampant voter fraud; and that he is “ashamed” he endorsed Kemp’s election.

“The governor has done nothing,” Trump said. “He’s done absolutely nothing. I’m ashamed that I endorsed him.”


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