Why the January 6 committee is focused on Trump’s plot in Georgia

Efforts to overturn election resuts will take centre stage

Georgia elections official testifies before special grand jury

The January 6 committee will meet for its fourth public hearing on Tuesday with one state firmly in its crosshairs: Georgia.

The site of a surprise victory for Joe Biden in 2020, the southern state was previously considered a stronghold and reliable source of Electoral College votes for Republican candidates, despite deep Democratic constituencies in Atlanta and some other areas. That changed when Donald Trump became the first Republican to lose the state since 1992.

In the weeks after his shocking defeat, Mr Trump poured much of his time and energy into the Peach State and its elected officials: At the top of his list were two Republican statewide elected officials, Gov Brian Kemp, and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who, according to multiple media reports, were both forced to resist overtures by Mr Trump and his legal team to interfere in the election.

Mr Kemp faced personal calls to his aides demanding that he use executive authority to block or temporarily suspend his state from certifying its election results. And he also faced very public demands to call a special session of Georgia’s state legislature to either declare the state’s electors for Mr Trump or launch an unwarranted and resource-consuming investigation into baseless allegations of fraud in the state.

And the pressure aimed at Mr Raffensperger was taken to the extreme. In a now-infamous phone call, the Republican president explained to a state official whom he thought owed him allegiance that he “just want[ed] to find 11,780 votes”, enough to vault him past Mr Biden’s vote total in the state.

The former president would also go on to warn the secretary of state and his attorney, Ryan Germany, that they could face criminal charges of their own if they did not investigate the supposed fraud that Mr Trump insisted was occurring.

“You know what they did and you’re not reporting it,” said Mr Trump on the infamous phone call. “You know, that’s a criminal – that’s a criminal offense. And you know, you can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer.”

Both Mr Kemp and Mr Raffensperger would later face off against, and defeat, Trump-backed primary challengers as a result of their actions. And on Tuesday, Mr Raffensperger will testify before the January 6 committee and give never-before-heard insight into the extent of a sitting president’s efforts to politically pressure state officials into overturning an election.

Gabriel Sterling, Mr Raffensperger’s top deputy, will also testify. Mr Sterling publicly condemned Mr Trump’s overtures in 2020, accusing him of “inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence” just weeks before that exact scenario would play out and thousands of Trump supporters would swarm the US Capitol, battling law enforcement and forcing their way inside.

The January 6 committee isn’t the only body looking at Mr Trump’s efforts in Georgia. A district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, is also in the process overseeing a grand jury for potential racketeering charges over the issue of the president’s efforts to pressure state officials. Mr Raffensperger testified before that grand jury last month.

Mr Trump’s chosen candidates suffered humiliating defeats in Georgia’s primaries in May, and the ex-president’s choice to take on incumbent Democratic Sen Raphael Warnock is seeing his campaign battered by new revelations that the candidate has at least two children with separate women whom he did not previously acknowledge.

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