Georgia Secretary of State blasts Trump again as recount deadline approaches

ATLANTA — Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger begged people to stop threatening election workers and blasted President Donald Trump for continuing to claim the election was rigged in Georgia Wednesday.

The new pleas come as elections workers are working to finish the recount by Wednesday night’s midnight deadline.

Channel 2 investigative reporter Justin Gray was at the state Capitol, where Raffensperger said workers are expected to meet the deadline, but that he is concerned about violence against them.

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“This is exactly the kind of language that is at the base of a growing threat of violence against election workers who are simply trying to do their jobs,” Raffensperger said.

On Tuesday, Gabriel Sterling from the Secretary of State’s Office issued an emotional plea to the president to calm the rhetoric. Sterling, the state’s elections implementation manager, has become the face of the Secretary of State’s office during two recounts, and he held nothing back while lashing out in anger.


“It has all gone too far. All of it,” Sterling said in an emotional news conference on Tuesday.

“It has to stop. Mr. President you have not condemned these actions or this language. Senators, you have not condemned these actions or this language. This has to stop. We need you to step up and if you’re going to take a position of leadership, show some,” Sterling barked in an echoing state Capitol rotunda.

Raffensperger said Wednesday that despite Sterling’s pleas on Tuesday, the president’s tweets show he is not dialing back the rhetoric. The president has continued to tweet about supposed voter fraud in Georgia -- which the Secretary of State’s office has said did not happen.

“Even after this office’s request that President Trump quell the violent rhetoric being born out of his continuing claims of winning the states where he obviously lost, he tweeted out, ‘Expose the massive fraud in Georgia.’” Raffensperger said.

In a White House press Briefing wednesday, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany was asked if the president condemns threats against election workers.

“We condemn any threats against anyone. There’s no place for violence,” McEnany said. “I will also say that the President’s lawyers were doxed by a left organization. Their private information was put out. So we’re seeing that happen to people on both sides of the argument, and there’s no place for that anywhere, ever.”

Trump 2020 Communications Director Tim Murtaugh issued the following statement on Sterling’s comments Tuesday.

“The campaign is focused on ensuring that all legal votes are counted and all illegal votes are not. No one should engage in threats or violence, and if that has happened, we condemn that fully.”

Recount timeline:

Counties have until midnight Wednesday night to get their recount results in to the state, and then until Friday to reertify the election if there are any changes.

Raffensperger warned that as results start to be posted, it will look like Trump has a big lead -- but he will slowly lose that lead, just like on election night.

It’s no conspiracy -- it’s just that the 132 counties that have already finished their recounts are some of the smallest and most rural. The big population centers where there are the most voters -- and the most Biden voters -- will be last to post.

New investigation:

Raffensperger has launched a controversial investigation into prominent voter registration groups this week, including The New Georgia Project.

Branda Waldrop received three voter registration applications at her Rockdale County home -- two of which were addressed to her deceased husband and sister-in-law.

Raffensperger said a postcard sent to his own house was addressed to his son, who died two years ago.

“It undermines the overall confidence in the system, the same way President Trump’s comments are,” Raffensperger said.

The CEO of The New Georgia Project said she has nothing to apologize for. She said they cast a wide net using public and private databases that sometimes have mistakes.

“Trying to disparage voting rights organizations and new voters from participating is voter suppression,” she said. “That’s what this is.”