Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R), once a close ally of President Donald Trump, has reportedly pushed back against Trump’s last-ditch attempts to interfere in the state’s presidential election results.
During a phone call on Saturday, Kemp refused a request from Trump to call a special session of the Georgia legislature to overturn the outcome of last month’s election, The Washington Post and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Trump wants state lawmakers to throw out the result ― which favored his opponent, President-elect Joe Biden ― and appoint electors who will back him instead. Georgia has 16 votes in the Electoral College.
According to the Journal-Constitution, this isn’t the first time Kemp has declined Trump’s demand for a special legislative session.
During his call with Kemp, Trump also urged the governor to order an audit of absentee ballot signatures in the state — a request that Kemp has repeatedly said he has no authority to fulfill.
Trump has made baseless claims of widespread election fraud and other irregularities in Georgia. He and his allies have alleged, without a shred of evidence, that state election officials accepted absentee ballots in cases where they were unable to verify signatures on the envelopes.
Trump repeated this allegation of “large scale discrepancies” in Georgia in a Saturday tweet. He also took a swipe at Kemp, saying he would “easily & quickly win Georgia” if the governor or Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, would “permit a simple signature verification” ― something that election officials have stressed won’t change the result. Biden bested Trump in Georgia by about 12,500 votes.
Trump and his allies have attempted to challenge that result by filing multiple lawsuits in the state. One of those suits has already been dismissed, while two others are still pending.
In his response to Trump’s tweet, Kemp alluded to his earlier phone call with the president and said he’d “publicly called for a signature audit three times … to restore confidence in our election process.”
Kemp has repeatedly called on Raffensperger to “take reasonable steps,” including conducting a sample audit of signatures, to address the allegations raised by Trump and his allies. The governor has said, however, that Georgia law prohibits him from “interfering in elections.”
Once a close ally of Trump’s, Kemp has been in the president’s bad books since the election.
Trump said in a recent Fox News interview that Kemp had “done nothing” to help him challenge Georgia’s election results.
“I’m ashamed that I endorsed him,” Trump said of Kemp, whom he supported during Georgia’s gubernatorial election in 2018.
The president also reportedly referred to Kemp as a “moron” and a “nut job.”
Trump is slated to hold a rally in Valdosta, Georgia, on Saturday evening to throw his support behind the state’s two GOP senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, who are facing competitive runoff elections in January. Those contests could determine which party controls the Senate in 2021.
Kemp said he won’t be attending the event as he mourns the death of Harrison Deal, an aide to Loeffler who died in a traffic accident on Friday. In a statement, Kemp described Deal as the “Kemp son and brother we never had.”