White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tore into Brian Kemp, Georgia’s Republican governor, on Monday, calling him “despicable” and comparing him to Georgia-based voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams for refusing to call a special session to overturn the state’s presidential election results.
“Governor Kemp is no different than Stacey Abrams right now,” Ms McEnany, who is also a Trump campaign adviser, told Fox News’s Sean Hannity on Monday. “She did this consent decree, and by not doing this, Governor Kemp is Stacey Abrams and that is despicable.”
She echoed these claims on Twitter as well.
Ms McEnany and the president have wrongly insisted that a March court decision, in which Georgia agreed to standardized rules about judging signatures on mail-in ballots and notifying voters if there were problems, tainted the integrity of the election.
Nothing in the consent decree makes the vote less secure or prevents poll workers from scrutinizing signatures—in fact, they are legally required to.
The new policy came about after a lawsuit from the Democratic party, which argued the state’s signature-matching process was disproportionately disenfranchising minority voters. Ms Abrams is a Black woman herself, lending a racial undertone to Ms McEnany’s criticisms.
During the interview, Ms McEnany insisted her calls for a special session were not about overturning the election results, but the president has more or less explicitly said this is the point.
“The Republican Governor of Georgia refuses to do signature verification, which would give us an easy win,” he tweeted the same day of Ms McEnany’s interview. “What’s wrong with this guy? What is he hiding?”
The day before, he tweeted that Mr. Kemp, and his fellow Republican lieutenant governor Geoff Duncan, could “easily solve this mess, & WIN. Signature verification & call a Special Session. So easy!”
The president and his allies have rained criticism on Georgia officials after the state once again certified its election results for president elect Joe Biden after a series of recounts. Officials in the state, many of them Republicans, say the Democrat definitely won.
Mr Trump called governor Kemp over the weekend, reportedly to pressure him to call a special legislative session where the state’s GOP legislature could theoretically force the state’s Electoral College votes to go for Mr Trump, rather than reflecting the will of the state’s voters.
The governor and his lieutenant rejected calls for a special session in a statement on Sunday.
"Any attempt by the legislature to retroactively change that process for the November 3rd election would be unconstitutional and immediately enjoined by the courts, resulting in a long legal dispute and no short-term resolution," they said.
Georgia’s secretary of state, also a Republican, echoed these comments that same day, saying, “They would be nullifying the will of the people.”
So far, legal challenges from the president’s allies trying to overturn the election have been unsuccessful in Georgia and elsewhere.
Following the election, despite no evidence of systemic fraud or voting irregularities, Georgia Republicans began considering whether to make it harder to vote by mail, which rights advocates and Democrats argue wouldn’t be necessary and could disenfranchise voters.
The president has repeatedly attacked mail-in voting and the Postal Service for causing his loss, even though he voted by mail himself this election.
Governor Kemp, now the focus of so much Republican ire for not putting his thumb on the scale for Republicans, was criticized for the exact opposite thing in 2018, when he beat Ms Abrams in the race for governor. Prior to his election, he removed thousands of people from Georgia’s voter rolls, many of them Black, while he was secretary of state presiding over his own election, which a subsequent investigations found kept thousands of active voters from registering their pick.
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