Georgia election official eviscerates Trump election lies one by one: ‘Such a long list’

Rollercoaster press conference comes just one day before Georgia voters determine partisan control of the Senate

Griffin Connolly
Monday 04 January 2021 21:50 GMT
Georgia election official debunks one Trump conspiracy theory after the next
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Georgia elections official Gabriel Sterling on Monday dispatched, one by one, Donald Trump’s spate of conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election there.

Mr Sterling’s rollercoaster press conference comes just one day after The Washington Post published an audio recording of the president’s hour-long tirade against Georgia Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger requesting that Mr Raffensperger “find” enough votes to swing the state towards him.

And it comes just one day before Georgians head to the polls once more for two Senate runoff races that will determine whether Republicans or Democrats control the chamber for the first two years of Joe Biden’s presidency.

Mr Sterling, a Republican, has defended his state’s election procedures from attacks by the president and his legal team as some Republicans in Washington try to overturn the 2020 presidential election results on Wednesday. Those roughly 150 Republicans backing Mr Trump’s challenge to the election have largely cited disproven or unsubstantiated theories of widespread fraud.

Mr Sterling dismantled those theories at a breathtaking verbal pace on Monday at the state capitol in Atlanta, addressing even the most absurd of the president’s claims.

“Secretary Raffensperger does not have a brother named Ron Raffensperger. That is also not real. The president tweeted that out as well. Let's see ... such a long list,” Mr Sterling said.

Last week, Mr Trump tweeted to his 88.5m followers the false claim that Mr Raffensperger had a brother Ron who worked for the Chinese tech company Huawei. The secretary’s brother is not named Ron, and he does not have any family members who work for Huawei.

To Mr Sterling’s left on Monday stood an easel displaying a poster with “claims” in the left-hand column and “facts” on the right.

Over the course of roughly 20 minutes, he made his way down the list.

Among the false claims — many of which have filtered their way through the online conservative ecosystem — were assertions that more than 2,000 felons, 66,248 underage teenagers, and 2,423 unregistered people voted in Georgia’s 2020 presidential election.

The facts tell a different story.

The Georgia secretary of state’s office has isolated just 74 potential felons who may have cast ballots before their sentences expired.

Zero underage people voted. Four people requested ballots when they were 17, but were 18 by the time they voted. Zero unregistered Georgians voted.

Of Mr Trump’s claims that Dominion ballot-counting machines had algorithmically switched Trump votes to Biden votes in Georgia, Mr Sterling laid out statistical evidence to prove such theories as hogwash.

“This is all easily provably false,” Mr Sterling said.

At one point, Mr Sterling turned an allegation against Mr Trump that he and his campaign legal team “intentionally misled the [Georgia] state Senate, voters, and the people of the United States” on one of their many conspiracy theories about ballots being mishandled. Mr Raffensperger’s office had shown Mr Trump’s team a tape disproving their theory, but the president has persisted in spreading it.

“It was intentional,” Mr Sterling said of Mr Trump’s comments about the tape. “It was obvious, and anybody watching this knows that. Anyone watching it knows that. That’s why we released the entire tape for people to watch,” he said.

Mr Sterling urged Georgians to ignore Mr Trump’s torrent of misinformation and make their voices heard by voting in Tuesday’s Senate runoffs.

“If you're a Georgia voter, if you want your values reflected by your elected officials, I strongly beg and encourage you [to] go vote tomorrow,” Mr Sterling said.

“Do not let anybody discourage you. Do not self suppress your own vote. Do not make a self fulfilling prophecy out of doing this. Don't let anybody steal your vote that way. That's what's happening,” he said.

Several Democrats in Washington have called on the FBI to launch a criminal investigation into Mr Trump for his phone call on Saturday with Mr Raffensperger, where he appeared to threaten the Peach State official with criminal proceedings unless he committed election fraud to swing the state’s vote towards Mr Trump.

“Look, all I want to do is this: I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state,” Mr Trump said during that phone conversation.

He insisted: “There’s no way I lost Georgia. There’s no way. We won by hundreds of thousands of votes.”

Mr Trump’s comments are a self-deluding fantasy, as Mr Sterling has laid out. An initial tally, as well as two recounts, confirmed Mr Biden won Georgia and its 16 Electoral College votes by more than 11,000 votes.

Mr Raffensperger and his general counsel, Ryan Germany, told Mr Trump as much on Saturday: They could not help him, as Mr Biden’s win had been fair and accurate.

That did not faze Mr Trump, who warned  Mr Raffensperger and Mr Germany that they could be held criminally liable if they couldn’t find a way to prevent Mr Biden’s victory in the state by proving election fraud.

“That’s a criminal offense,” Mr Trump said. “And you can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer.”

In a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray on Monday, Congressman Ted Lieu of California and Congresswoman Kathleen Rice of New York urged the bureau to “open an immediate criminal investigation into the President” for engaging in “solicitation of, or conspiracy to commit, a number of election crimes.”

Part of the US criminal code states that it is a crime if “a person, including an election official, who in any election for Federal office … knowingly and willfully deprives, defrauds, or attempts to deprive or defraud the residents of a State of a fair and impartially conducted election process, by … the procurement, casting, or tabulation of ballots that are known by the person to be materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent under the laws of the State in which the election is held.”

Mr Trump did just that, Mr Lieu and Ms Rice maintain.

“In this case Mr. Trump, for purposes of a federal election, solicited Secretary of State Raffensperger to procure ballots that are known to be false by threatening him to ‘find 11,780 votes,’” the Democratic lawmakers wrote.

Congress is slated to certify Mr Biden’s Electoral College victory on Wednesday, despite the push by some of Mr Trump’s allies to toss the 2020 results.

Mr Biden will be sworn in as president for a four-year term on 20 January.

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