Hours before he was scheduled to hold a rally in Georgia on behalf of the state’s two GOP senators, Trump pressed Kemp to call a special session of the state legislature for lawmakers to override the results and appoint electors who would back the president at the electoral college, according to two people familiar with the conversation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private call.
Trump also asked the governor to demand an audit of signatures on mail ballots, something Kemp has previously noted he has no power to do. Kemp declined the president’s entreaty, according to the people.
The governor later referred to his conversation with Trump in a midday tweet, noting that he told the president that he’d already publicly advocated for a signature audit.
Kemp’s spokesman, Cody Hall, confirmed that the two men spoke. Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh declined to comment.
The latest example of Trump’s extraordinary personal effort to overturn Biden’s win comes as his legal team has met with resounding failure in its attempts to use the courts to upend the election. On Friday, the president and his allies suffered legal defeats in six states, including decisive rejections in Arizona and Nevada of their claims of fraud and other irregularities.
Trump was unable to stop the certification of the vote in all the states in which he has sought to contest the results, even after making personal outreach to Republican officials in Michigan.
Despite that, the president has continued to lash out at the results — particularly in Georgia, where he was furious that Republican officials certified Biden’s win.
On the call Saturday, Kemp told the president that his family was mourning the death of a family friend, a Loeffler staffer who was killed in a car crash Friday. Trump then offered his condolences, according to one of the people with knowledge of the conversation. But that was not the purpose of the president’s call, the person added: “This was not a condolence call. This was Kemp being chewed out by Trump.”
Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University, said that if Trump invoked his federal authority in his conversation Saturday with Kemp, or made the call from the Oval Office, he could have violated criminal provisions of the Hatch Act, which prohibits government officials from political activity in their official roles.
Though the civil penalties of the Hatch Act do not apply to the president, the criminal provisions do, she noted.
Even if Trump did not commit a crime, Clark added, his actions threaten to disenfranchise voters in Georgia who participated in the November election.
“Such a move would undermine public confidence in our constitutional system and do damage to future elections,” she said.
The president’s attempts to pressure Kemp come amid high political stakes in Georgia, where the U.S. Senate incumbents, both Republicans, face runoff elections against Democrats on Jan. 5 that…
Go to the news source: Trump calls Georgia governor to pressure him for help overturning Biden’s win in…