Georgia election chief to Trump: Drop the fraud allegations

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Wednesday called on President Donald Trump to drop unproven allegations of voting fraud in Georgia.

At a press conference at the Georgia Capitol, Raffensperger decried Trump’s continued insistence that voter fraud cost him the election in Georgia and elsewhere. The secretary cited this week’s comments by U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who said federal investigators have seen no evidence of widespread fraud that would affect the outcome of the election, which was won by former Vice President Joe Biden.

“President Trump’s Justice Department has seen no widespread fraud,” Raffensperger said. “They have had multiple investigations, like us. And our investigators have seen no widespread fraud, either.”

The secretary’s comments come as Trump’s supporters continue to press claims of voter fraud in court. Attorneys handling two of those lawsuits held a press conference Wednesday in Alpharetta, repeating unsubstantiated claims that the election was stolen. So far, their allegations have not held up in court.

Raffensperger’s comments also came a day after one of his top deputies, Gabriel Sterling, blasted Trump and Georgia U.S. Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue for remaining silent as some of the president’s angry supporters threatened several people involved in Georgia elections. After Sterling’s comments, both senators and Trump’s campaign issued statements condemning such threats.

Raffensperger, who has received threats and is protected by a security detail, said he supported Sterling’s comments. And he took his own turn criticizing Trump on Wednesday.

“Even after this office requested that President Trump try to quell the violent rhetoric being borne out of these continuing claims of winning the states that he obviously lost, he tweeted out ‘expose the massive voter fraud in Georgia,’ ” the secretary said. “This is exactly the kind of language that is at the base of a growing threat environment for election workers who are simply doing their jobs.”

At a rally in an Alpharetta park, hundreds of Trump supporters cheered as a series of speakers outlined their dreams of overturning the election results.

Egged on by Atlanta attorney Lin Wood, the crowd booed the mention of Gov. Brian Kemp’s name and chanted “lock him up.” Wood said Kemp and other Republicans should be held to account for not doing more to help Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of a rigged election.

And Sidney Powell, the former Trump attorney who was disavowed by his campaign, said the president’s backers should think twice about voting in the Jan. 5 runoffs until sweeping changes are made to the electoral system.

“I would encourage all Georgians to make it known that you will not vote at all unless your vote is secure,” Powell said.

At a second press conference Wednesday, Sterling disputed the pair’s claim that Georgia’s election system had switched votes from Trump to Biden. He said the state’s recent hand audit of every ballot proved no votes were switched. And he said Powell and Wood lied when asked about the hand count at the rally.

“They said: ‘No, no, that wasn’t a hand audit. They used machines to count it,’ ” Sterling said. “They lied to the people who are believing them to their face. It’s this kind of lying and this kind of rhetoric that’s continuing to inflame passions on the ground unnecessarily. And it’s wrong.”

The comments came on the final day of a recount of the presidential election in Georgia. Raffensperger expected all 159 of Georgia’s counties to meet the midnight deadline.

Raffensperger said there had been no substantial differences from the previous tally of votes in the counties that had completed their work. But if there are any variations, counties will need to recertify the results. The state expects to recertify the election by Friday.