President Trump on Saturday morning called Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp to push him to get state legislators to override President-elect Joe Biden’s victory there, the Washington Post reports. Trump’s request reportedly involved the governor convincing the legislators in a special session to disregard the result of the Georgia electorate’s vote and appoint electors who would support him. Trump additionally tried to persuade Kemp to order an audit of absentee ballot signatures. Kemp reportedly rebuffed Trump’s requests.
CNN and the New York Times also confirmed the incident. Kemp’s spokesman told the Post that a call occurred, though Trump’ campaign declined to comment. Trump himself, however, seemed to obliquely reference the call in a noon tweet.
Kemp also mentioned the call in a tweet around 40 minutes later, noting that he’d already publicly called for signature audit three separate times. The governor does not in fact have the power to order a such an audit; only Georgia’s secretary of state can do so. Trump and those backing his attempt to overturn the election have claimed without evidence that Georgia officials counted ballots containing envelope signatures that did not match ones on record. As the Post notes, even if the state did conduct a signature audit, the Georgia Constitution requires ballots to be separated from the envelopes in order to protect voters’ privacy. It would then be impossible for officials to match the theoretically irregular envelope signatures to their corresponding ballots.
This is just the latest development in Trump’s unprecedented campaign to strongarm state officials to invalidate the results of the election. Georgia has been one of his targets, along with Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Arizona. Trump has taken to attacking Kemp, along with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, during his lame duck period. Trump had endorsed Kemp during the governor’s primary run in 2018. Now, the President says he feels betrayed that Kemp has not done more to stick up for him in his quest to nullify the election. Kemp’s approval ratings have fallen dramatically among Republican voters since Election Day according to Morning Consult.
Trump is scheduled to appear in his first rally since the election in Georgia on Saturday evening in order to stump for Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, who are contenders in a tight January runoff against Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, respectively. Politico reported that Republicans are concerned that Trump could depress turnout among his supporters in the state by spreading baseless conspiracy theories about a rigged system that stole the election from him.