“This has to stop. We need you to step up,” he said. “If you take a position of leadership, show some.”
In case there was any doubt who he was referring to, Sterling said later, “I’m talking about Sen. David Perdue and Sen. Kelly Loeffler, two people whom I still support. But they need to step up.”
In a response, Perdue issued a statement saying he “condemns violence of any kind, against anybody. Period.
“We won’t apologize for addressing the obvious issues with the way our state conducts its elections,” the senator said, without saying what the obvious issues are.
“Like many officials, as someone who has been the subject of threats, of course Senator Loeffler condemns violence of any kind,” spokesman Stephen Lawson said on Twitter. “How ridiculous to even suggest otherwise.”
The Trump campaign issued a statement saying it “is focused on ensuring that all legal votes are counted and all illegal votes are not. No one should engage in threats or violence, and if that has happened, we condemn that fully.”
Sterling’s comments amounted to return fire in a heated war of words between some of Georgia’s top Republicans. Loeffler and Perdue have called on Raffensperger to resign, citing unspecified election improprieties but providing no evidence. Other Republicans have taken up the president’s cries of “voter fraud,” though none of the accusations have held up in court.
Sterling said the Gwinnett technician for Dominion Voting Systems was the subject of a video that purported to show him manipulating election data. Sterling said the claims were baseless, but the man and his family have received threats.
“I’ve got protection outside of my house. Fine. I took a high-profile job,” Sterling said. “The secretary ran for office. This kid took a job. He just took a job.”
Sterling also cited comments by Trump attorney Joe diGenova, who on Monday called for a cybersecurity expert to be shot for rejecting the president’s claims about fraud.
Sterling encouraged the president to pursue litigation if he believes there were problems. But he decried the escalation of threats and rhetoric. He said someone will be harmed or killed if it continues.
“This is elections. This is the backbone of democracy,” Sterling said. “And all of you who haven’t said a damn word are complicit in this.”