President Donald Trump warned Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr not to rally other Republican officials against a long-shot Texas lawsuit seeking to toss out the state’s election results, according to several people with direct knowledge of the conversation.
The roughly 15-minute phone call late Tuesday came shortly before U.S. Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue issued a joint statement saying they “fully support” the improbable lawsuit asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reject election results in Georgia and three other battleground states that Trump lost.
Earlier in the day, Carr’s office called the lawsuit by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton “constitutionally, legally and factually wrong.” The complaint asks the justices to delay the Monday deadline for certification of presidential electors in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
The two men spoke at the urging of Perdue, who along with Loeffler also received calls from Trump about Carr’s opposition to the lawsuit, according to three Republican officials, two of whom described Trump as “furious” in his call with Loeffler over the attorney general’s stance.
Minutes after Trump and Carr hung up, the two senators issued a joint statement proclaiming their support for the Paxton lawsuit.
“This isn’t hard and it isn’t partisan. It’s American,” the senators said. “No one should ever have to question the integrity of our elections system and the credibility of its outcomes.”
A person on the call between Trump and Carr described it as cordial. Trump told Carr that he’s “heard great things” about him but that he’s picked up word that Carr was calling other attorneys general and urging them to stand against the Texas challenge. Carr told him that wasn’t true.
Earlier Wednesday, Trump asked the U.S. Supreme Court to let him join the lawsuit challenging the election results, which repeats false and unsubstantiated allegations about mail-in ballots and the voting process in Georgia and the other states.
It’s the latest in a series of extraordinary attempts by Trump to overturn his narrow defeat to President-elect Joe Biden, which made him the first Republican White House hopeful to lose the state since 1992.
The president dialed up Gov. Brian Kemp on Saturday and demanded during a lengthy phone call that he summon state lawmakers to the Capitol for a special session to overturn his defeat.
At his Valdosta rally that evening, Trump said he was “ashamed” of the Republican he endorsed in 2018 and urged U.S. Rep. Doug Collins to challenge him in a 2022 primary.
Kemp and other state GOP leaders have previously rejected Trump’s demands to call a special legislative session, warning that any attempt to change election laws before the runoffs would result in “endless litigation.” On the phone call, he told the president his opposition hadn’t changed and he was following state law by certifying the results.
State elections officials have repeatedly said there’s no widespread evidence of election fraud, and a series of lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign and its allies in Georgia and other states have been rejected by the courts. After a third tally, Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger certified election results that showed Biden won the state by roughly 12,000 votes.
The president has also vented his fury at Raffensperger and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, who each have acknowledged Biden’s victory and urged Republicans to focus on Jan. 5 runoffs rather than his election grievances.
Even as those Georgia Republicans defy Trump’s calls to undo the election, Loeffler and Perdue have worked carefully not to antagonize him ahead of the January votes to determine control of the Senate.
Though neither has repeated his false claims of a “stolen” election — Loeffler wouldn’t answer that question in Sunday’s debate — they’ve also sought to appease Trump by calling for Raffensperger’s resignation.
Trump, meanwhile, has also sought to reverse his defeat outside the legal system, including by encouraging Georgia lawmakers to demand a special session of the Republican-controlled Legislature to grant the state’s 16 electoral votes to him.
A push by four Georgia Senate Republicans to petition Kemp to call the session went nowhere. But 16 state senators — about half the GOP caucus — endorsed the Texas lawsuit filed by Paxton, who is battling whistleblower allegations that he engaged in bribery.
They issued a statement claiming that a “systemic failure to follow the law has allowed misconduct, fraud and irregularities throughout the voting process of this state” without citing substantiated evidence that’s withstood court scrutiny.
Georgia Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said the conspiracy theories in the lawsuit “are false and irresponsible.”
“Texas alleges that there are 80,000 forged signatures on absentee ballots in Georgia, but they don’t bring forward a single person who this happened to,” she said. “That’s because it didn’t happen.”