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Trump Reportedly Bullied Georgia GOP Senators into Making Weird Joint Statement Doubting Legitimacy of Election

Much was made on Monday of a joint statement from Republican Georgia Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, which went after Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and demanded his resignation. On Tuesday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that President Donald Trump and his “top allies” were the driving force behind the joint statement.

As you may know, Loeffler and Perdue are headed to runoff elections against Democrats Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, respectively. The results of these elections will have major implications for Senate business over the next two years during a Joe Biden administration.

So what was the deal with the decidedly Trumpian approach to trashing Raffensperger? If AJC’s report is accurate and to be believed, the Republican senators did this to appease the president and president’s allies in order to avoid the threat of negative tweets that might undermine their chances in runoff elections [emphasis ours]:

It was a brazen effort to appease Trump, who has falsely claimed electoral fraud despite no evidence of any wrongdoing as he and his supporters try to discredit Biden.

We’re told the president and his top allies pressured the two Republican senators to take this step, lest he tweet a negative word about them and risk divorcing them from his base ahead of the consequential runoff.

As Law&Crime reported on Monday, Loeffler and Perdue issued a statement in virtual lockstep with the Trump campaign’s rhetoric about an election that has already been called for Biden.

“The management of Georgia elections has become an embarrassment for our state. Georgians are outraged, and rightly so,” the joint statement said. “We have been clear from the beginning: every legal vote cast should be counted. Any illegal vote must not. And there must be transparency and uniformity in the counting process. This isn’t hard. This isn’t partisan. This is American.”

“There have been too many failures in Georgia elections this year and the most recent election has shined a national light on the problems. While blame certainly lies elsewhere as well, the buck ultimately stops with the Secretary of State,” they went on. “The mismanagement and lack of transparency from the Secretary of State is unacceptable. Honest elections are paramount to the foundation of our democracy. The Secretary of State has failed to deliver honest and transparent elections. He has failed the people of Georgia, and he should step down immediately.”

As you can see, the statement was filled with generalities attacking a member of the senators’ own party.

Despite the senators’ claims and despite Attorney General Bill Barr’s foray into election matters, there has been no evidence to suggest that any illegal votes were counted in Georgia. The Georgia Republican Party and the Trump campaign already lost a lawsuit filed in the state seeking to have absentee ballots received after 7:00 p.m. on Election Day thrown out. The judge ruled that the groups had produced no evidence to support claims of fraud.

Georgia Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, also a Republican, said the state hadn’t seen “any sort of credible examples” of voter fraud that would lend credence to the Senators’ allegations. Duncan also tweeted a call that Republicans “work together” to secure a Republican majority in the Senate.

Raffensperger, in a statement saying he had no intention of resigning, advised the senators to focus on unity ahead of important runoff elections.

“The process of reporting results has been orderly and followed the law. Where there have been specific allegations of illegal voting, my office has dispatched investigators,” he said. “My job is to follow Georgia law and see to it that all legal votes, and no illegal votes, are counted properly and accurately. As Secretary of State, that is my duty, and I will continue to do my duty. As a Republican, I am concerned about Republicans keeping the U.S. Senate. I recommend that Senators Loeffler and Perdue start focusing on that.”

Jerry Lambe contributed to this report.

[Image via BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images]

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Matt Naham is managing editor of Law&Crime. He formerly worked as news editor and weekend editor at Rare.