AJC Interview: Kemp blasts ‘ridiculous’ attacks over refusal to overturn election

Governor Brian P. Kemp speaks at a press conference at the state capital on Tuesday, November 8, 2020.  STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Governor Brian P. Kemp speaks at a press conference at the state capital on Tuesday, November 8, 2020. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Gov. Brian Kemp criticized “ridiculous” attacks from fellow Republicans outraged that he won’t call a special session to overturn the election results, as he faces unrelenting criticism from President Donald Trump and his allies infuriated by Joe Biden’s election victory.

Although Georgia’s 16 Democratic electors formally cast their ballots for Biden on Monday, Kemp told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he still wasn’t prepared to concede Trump’s defeat, saying he would respect the legal process and “reevaluate that when all that plays out.”

Nor did he directly criticize Trump, who overnight called him a “clown” and has openly invited U.S. Rep. Doug Collins to challenge the governor in a Republican primary in 2022. Instead, Kemp expressed frustration that he’s been blamed for following state laws by certifying, and later re-certifying, three separate tallies of roughly 5 million votes.

“I’m disappointed in the results so far, in regards to the election, but also I’ve got to follow these laws and the Constitution and that’s what I’m doing,” Kemp said. “It’s a little frustrating that there are some out there who don’t know where these duties fall, and I’m being blamed for a lot of things.”

In the interview, he pointed to his record as Secretary of State for much of a decade, saying he fought to “make sure it’s easy to vote and hard to cheat, and that we have secure, accessible and fair elections in the state.

“It’s ridiculous, quite honestly, that many are blaming me for being responsible for what happened in the election,” he said.

“No one has worked harder for the president. I’ve said that many times, going into the election all the way through November 3, and I’ve supported his legal efforts under the laws and the Constitution. At the end of the day, I’ve also got to follow the same laws and the same Constitution.”

He endorsed Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s call for a limited audit of signatures of absentee ballot envelopes in Cobb County, saying it would help “bring people peace of mind.” The governor had previously issued at least three separate calls for a wider audit.

Kemp dodged questions about whether there was widespread fraud – a claim rejected by Raffensperger, along with state and federal officials. Judges at every level have dismissed lawsuits seeking to overturn the results in Georgia and elsewhere, culminating with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to reject a Texas challenge to the votes.

“That’s really a question the Secretary of State needs to answer,” the governor said, pointing to investigations of roughly 250 voting allegations made through the election season which began with the June primary. “I do think we need to run those cases down very quickly.”

State election officials say the investigations will not affect the outcome of Biden’s roughly 12,000-vote victory in Georgia.

As for Trump’s escalating barrage of criticism – the president has said he’s “ashamed” to have endorsed the governor and predicted he would never win another term in office – Kemp tried to redirect the attention to the Jan. 5 runoffs for control of the U.S. Senate.

“I’m not too worried about that. Like I said in the past, the president is frustrated, obviously. I’m frustrated with him not doing better in Georgia, even though I support the legal process playing out to ensure everyone has had their say.”

He added: “But at the end of the day, we’ve got one mission right now, and that’s to re-elect David Perdue and elect Kelly Loeffler to the U.S. Senate.”