This weekend brought many more details about the immense pressure from President Donald Trump placed on Georgia officials, at all levels of government, to negate the votes of nearly 5 million Georgia voters on Nov. 3:
Weeks before Trump pressured Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger “find" enough votes to flip the election, it was revealed Saturday that he also called a Georgia elections investigator with a similar demand, prompting questions about possible obstruction of justice.
Separately, White House officials urged U.S. Attorney BJay Pak to resign before the consequential Senate runoffs because Trump was angered that the top federal prosecutor for the Northern District of Georgia hadn't done enough to investigate false allegations of widespread voter fraud that the president and his allies were promoting.
This morning, Eliana Johnson, the editor-in-chief of the Washington Free Beacon, has this via Politico.com:
[Trump] told Kelly Loeffler before he landed in Georgia for a final rally on Monday that if she didn't back the Electoral College challenges, he would “do a number on her" from the stage, according to a source familiar with the events.
But the pressure went both ways. In a letter dated Jan. 2, the same Saturday that President Trump urged Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to find him 11,780 votes to over turn the Georgia results, at least five state senators sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, urging him to delay congressional certification of the electoral college votes for 12 days “to allow for further investigation of fraud, irregularities, and misconduct” in Georgia’s election.
The senators cited the video of Fulton County election workers at State Farm Arena, which Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, twice brought before lawmakers at the state Capitol -- claiming it was proof of nefarious doings.
It has been debunked time and again. Nonetheless, a dozen Georgia Republican state senators co-signed a letter that read:
“We have identified a team of experts who are able to examine the ballots and the voting and counting equipment to determine whether or not the integrity of the vote was violated.”
Among the state senators signing the letter: Brandon Beach of Alpharetta, Matt Brass of Newnan, Greg Dolezal of Cumming, Burt Jones of Jackson, and William Ligon of Brunswick. As of this morning, with the swearing-in of a new crop of senators, Ligon is now a former senator. But the letter was written on his stationery.
It apparently wasn’t delivered to Pence - Jones said he has the original copy in hand because “we saw the writing on the wall.”
Jones might be the closest lawmaker to Pence if it needed to be delivered. On late Tuesday, Jan. 5, he posted a Tweet -- with a photo -- showing him in attendance at a D.C. dinner with the vice president. That Tweet has now disappeared from Jones’ account. (He said he deleted it because he was getting a flood of Internet feedback.)
The next day, President Trump had his rally outside the White House -- and then encouraged them to confront members of Congress in the U.S. Capitol, who even then were engaged in ratifying the electoral college votes.
We needn’t remind you that the false narrative and GOP fantasy that Trump won the election were pushed by other Georgia Republicans as well -- specifically, six of Georgia’s eight GOP congressmen and two U.S. senators, at least for a time.
That video of Fulton County election workers was specifically examined by the “60 Minutes” crew on Sunday. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Gabriel Sterling, one of his top aides, were a focus of the CBS segment. A partial transcript:
Gabriel Sterling: From my point of view, [Rudy Giuliani and others] intentionally misled the state senators, the people of Georgia, and the people of the United States about this to cause this conspiracy theory to keep going and keep the disinformation going, which has caused this environment that we're seeing today.
Scott Pelley: Are you saying they lied to the--
Gabriel Sterling: Yes.
Scott Pelley: --Georgia State Senate?
Gabriel Sterling: I'm saying that Rudy Giuliani looked them in the eye and lied.
Brad Raffensperger: And Rudy Giuliani knows that. He also, I believe, you know, he has some ethical standards as a member of the bar. He knows that what he said was not true. But our state senate did not ask us to come in there so that we could rebut what they said. And it was actually left as the gospel truth, and it wasn't. It was fabricated.
Democrats in the U.S. House will move forward with introducing new articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced in a letter to colleagues Sunday.
In addition, Democratic members are continuing to discuss a resolution urging t Vice President Mike Pence and Trump Cabinet invoke the 25th Amendment and remove the president from office.
Another item on the agenda: researching options to remove fellow members of Congress under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. That clause says those who engage in or give aid to an insurrection or rebellion against the government can be removed by a two-thirds majority.
After months of stoking anger about alleged election fraud, one of America’s largest talk-radio companies is abruptly changing direction, according to the Washington Post:
Atlanta-based Cumulus Media, which employs some of the most popular right-leaning talk-radio hosts in the United States, has told its on-air personalities to stop suggesting that the election was stolen from President Trump — or else face termination.
Cumulus owns 416 radio stations in 84 regions across the country. Many of its stations broadcast a talk format, a medium that has been dominated by a conservative point of view for decades. In addition to its national personalities, it employs local talk-radio hosts in many of its markets.
Three prominent Georgia Republicans – Edward Lindsey, Sam Olens and Eric Tanenblatt – put their names to an op-ed piece in Sunday’s AJC. It includes these paragraphs:
Historian Theodore H. White once wrote: “Heroes and philosophers, brave men and vile, have since Rome and Athens tried to make the transfer of power work effectively; no people has succeeded at it better, or over a longer period of time, than the Americans." Make no mistake: the events earlier in the week at the Capitol were acts of domestic terrorism and sedition intended to arrest the peaceful transfer of power, which is the cornerstone of a free people and government.
Our Republican Party -- created on the principle of Thomas Jefferson's vision of limited government, Abraham Lincoln's drive to eliminate slavery, and Ronald Reagan's big-tent philosophy -- must respond to the trauma inflicted upon the nation and our democracy this week.
No member of Congress has mentioned “stop the steal” on social media more than Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, according to analysis from Derek Willis of ProPublica, who actually counted those mentions and put them in a spreadsheet.
“Stop the steal” is the favorite phrase used by supporters of President Trump who believe his false claims that he was the rightful winner of the general election. Greene, R-Rome, was among the six Georgia House members who voted against accepting the Electoral College tally last week even after the deadly riots at the U.S. Capitol.
Willis’ analysis found that Greene had posted “stopthesteal” on either her official or campaign Twitter account 22 times, usually in a hashtag. Second place was U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Arizona, at 15 mentions.
Already posted: Democrat Charlie Bailey launched a rematch bid Monday against Republican Attorney General Chris Carr with a pledge to create a statewide civil rights division and start a new unit to fight organized crime.
Bailey also took aim at Carr’s support for President Donald Trump, who narrowly lost the state in November, and Carr’s leadership of the Republican Attorneys General Association, which encouraged Republicans to march on the U.S. Capitol to “stop the steal” ahead of last week’s deadly riot in Washington.
A spokeswoman for Carr has said the attorney general “unequivocally had no knowledge or involvement” in the effort, made in a robocall, and “is working diligently to determine how this situation occurred and ensure that it does not happen again.”
Already Posted, Part II: Thirty-four Georgians are among the nearly 1,000 individuals or companies who have donated at least $200 to the committee in charge of planning the inauguration festivities for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
President Trump has had his Twitter account suspended indefinitely, and his followers are also complaining about being silenced on social media after last week’s ransacking of the U.S. Capitol. But it’s happening on the other side of the aisle, too. From 10TV in Columbus, Ohio:
A spokesperson for the Franklin County Sheriff's Office was told to resign Thursday because of a Facebook post about Capitol police.
On Wednesday, the day of the riot at the U.S. Capitol, Marc Gofstein wrote in a Facebook post, “Law enforcement freely letting mobs storm the Capitol Building, not stopping domestic terrorists from desecrating the House and Senate chambers, and even taking selfies with the Trumpies."
“If this was a BLM protest, we'd be seeing tanks and mass casualties. White privilege at its worst," he continued.
His boss, the sheriff, called the comments “inflammatory.”
As the Legislature convenes in Atlanta today, several Republican lawmakers are considering a push to end no-excuse absentee voting in Georgia. House Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan have said they would oppose wholesale elimination of the process -- which allowed a primary and general election to be conducted during a pandemic.
On GPB’s “Political Rewind” on Friday, state Rep. Calvin Smyre, D-Columbus, the longest-serving member of the General Assembly, also drew a red line:
“People have died for the right to vote. We are not going to just stand idly by. This is a very, very sensitive issue with a lot of us. Because we've borne the pain. We've borne the suffering. People like John Lewis and C.T. Vivian and Joe Lowery – they made it possible for people like me to run for public office and have a longevity of service in our state.
“An attempt to abridge anyone's right to vote is an affront, and I take it as such. And I will fight as vigorously as I possibly can, along with other members of the Democratic caucus, to make sure people in the state of Georgia have the right – we're not going back. We're not going back. And I mean that with every bit of strength in my body."
We’re told that state Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, a Democrat from Decatur, has applied to be chairman of the joint House-Senate committee that oversees MARTA. The committee had been chaired by state Rep. Deborah Silcox, R-Sandy Springs, who lost her re-election bid in November.
Leadership of the committee has alternated between Fulton and DeKalb counties, whose taxpayers provide the largest portion of local funding. But there is no Republican state lawmaker representing DeKalb County now.
Oliver is tight with House Speaker David Ralston, so the possibility of her appointment isn’t to be dismissed lightly even in these highly polarized times.