Georgian officials pushed back President Trump on Sunday as he continued to repeat unsubstantiated allegations questioning the integrity of the election and calling for a special session of the state legislature in a bid to cancel his loss.
Republican state officials defended the election results, noting that the result had withstood multiple recounts, and argued that the president sowed division within the party and suspicion over the electoral process.
“Mountains of misinformation don’t help the process; they just hurt him, “state Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, a Republican, said on CNN’s” State of the Union “program on Sunday, adding:” I voted for president Trump. I campaigned for him. And, unfortunately, he did not win the State of Georgia. “
The election dispute ignited a split among Republicans as the president blasted state officials in his own party. GOP officials have expressed concern that the discord could have adverse consequences, as sitting Republican senators have been forced into run-off races against Democrats who will ultimately determine whether the party maintains its control over the Senate.
On Sunday, Senator Kelly Loeffler is scheduled to debate her Democratic challenger, Reverend Dr. Raphael G. Warnock, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Another debate is scheduled for Sunday for Senator David Perdue to take on his challenger, Jon Ossoff, an executive at a media production company, but Mr Ossoff will likely appear on his own as Mr Perdue refused to participate in the second round debates .
Mr Trump traveled to Georgia for a rally on Saturday to mobilize his supporters to support Mr Perdue and Ms Loeffler in the January run-off. But the president mostly used the stage to voice his grievances over the election and attack Gov. Brian Kemp and Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state.
“You know we won Georgia, just so you understand,” Mr Trump said during his first rally as a lame president, adding: “They cheated and rigged our presidential election, but we will continue to win . “
Mr Trump lost the state by just under 12,000 votes to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., who won the White House with 306 electoral votes and was the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Georgia since 1992.
Yet Mr. Trump continued to argue that the outcome is not final. On Saturday, he lobbied for Mr. Kemp to call a special session of the Legislature, in which lawmakers could name voters who would override the popular vote and give Mr. Trump a victory for the state.
But during his appearance on CNN on Sunday, Mr Duncan said he believed Mr Kemp would not comply with the president’s request.
“Recalling the General Assembly at this point would almost amount to a solution to try to find a problem,” Duncan said. “We’re definitely not going to move the goal posts at this point in the election.”
State officials also took issue with the wave of allegations raised by Mr. Trump, saying the election was “stolen” from him. The president denounced the vote counting machines and falsely claimed that postal ballots are rife with fraud.
Gabriel Sterling, a senior election official in the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, compared the fight to the president’s claims of playing the Whac-a-Mole game.
Mr Sterling drew widespread attention at a recent press conference in which he passionately condemned the spread of false statements surrounding the election and the failure of many Republicans to challenge it. He warned of devastating consequences beyond undermining public confidence in the electoral process, including violence.
“The president’s statements are false,” Sterling said during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” show. “This is disinformation. They stir up anger and fear among his supporters – and damn it, I voted for him. The situation is getting much worse. “