Kemp condemns pro-Trump mob, extends National Guard order

Gov. Brian Kemp condemned the violent mob loyal to President Donald Trump that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday as he extended an executive order that authorized him to deploy Georgia National Guard troops if needed.

The governor also blasted state legislators and others who demanded that he call a special legislative session to illegally overturn Trump’s election defeat, saying the caustic rhetoric surrounding the president’s claims has only ratcheted up the tension.

“It’s a disgrace and quite honestly un-American,” Kemp said at a press conference at the heavily-guarded Capitol, adding: “For those of you that have been calling for a special session, you can now see what that would look like.”

The governor didn’t directly criticize Trump, who frequently berates Kemp for refusing to invalidate Georgia’s free and fair election. But he singled out Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, who called for “trial by combat” at a rally Wednesday that incited the mob besieging the Capitol.

“Rudy Giuliani saying he wanted trial by combat is simply outrageous, and there’s no place for that in the nation,” Kemp said of the former New York City mayor, who has spouted sham conspiracy theories at several state legislative hearings in the past month.

Kemp has faced pressure from a pro-Trump wing of the Republican Party to illegally reverse President-elect Joe Biden’s narrow victory in Georgia. Four Republican state senators — Brandon Beach, Greg Dolezal, William Ligon and Burt Jones — drafted a petition seeking an emergency special session because of false claims of “systemic failures” in the election system.

Others took their criticism of the assault on the Capitol a step further. U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, a freshman Democrat representing a Gwinnett County-based district, on Wednesday joined a group of House members calling for Trump’s impeachment.

“I condemn what happened in the strongest possible terms — and we need to be clear that the outgoing president and his enablers have routinely fanned the flames that sparked today’s riots,” she said.

State election official Gabriel Sterling, who has decried the president’s debunked conspiracy theories of voting fraud, called the riots an “attempted coup.”

And U.S. Sen.-elect Raphael Warnock called for Americans to “be a light to see our country out of this dark moment,” quoting the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

The governor, who was joined by Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and House Speaker David Ralston, said he’s discussed enhancing safety protocols with bipartisan political leaders ahead of the start of the legislative session on Monday. He didn’t elaborate, though he said he was “confident” he wouldn’t need to dispatch National Guard troops.

The mob descended on the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday afternoon and halted the congressional count of the Electoral College votes to confirm Biden’s victory. The rioters assaulted law enforcement officers and caused widespread damage. Trump and many of his allies refused to condemn what U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney labeled an “insurrection.”

Kemp appealed for unity at a volatile time.

“We will move forward together working on the things that really matter to the people of our state,” he said.