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‘Absurd’ Trump Lawsuit in Georgia Blasted By Kemp in Court

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 1/5/2021 Erik Larson

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump’s “absurd” demands in a new lawsuit to reverse his election loss in Georgia are too late to be valid and rely on rehashed voter-fraud claims that have already been “flatly rejected” in similar cases, the state’s Republican governor said in a court filing.

Trump seeks a court order requiring Georgia to “de-certify” its election result and allow the state’s GOP-led legislature to declare the winner instead -- a strategy that the president and his allies tried without success to force on several swing states after Trump’s decisive loss.

Doing so would “disenfranchise millions of Georgia voters” and “thrust the State of Georgia into constitutional chaos,” Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the state’s embattled GOP elections chief, said in a filing Monday in federal court in Atlanta.

Trump filed the suit Dec. 31, a few days before a now-infamous phone call in which he told Raffensperger to “recalculate” the election result and “find” just enough votes for him to win the state. Dozens of similar suits have been rejected by judges across the U.S. due to a lack of evidence.

Kemp and Raffensperger said Trump waited too long to file the suit, which targets rules for mail-in ballots that were set months before the election and alleges irregularities that should have been suspected shortly after the Nov. 3 election.

“Rather than bring his claims in a timely manner and provide the defendants and the court the opportunity to consider their allegations in a more thoughtful way, the plaintiff manufactured a crisis, with the goal being less about policing the electoral system and more about thrusting Georgia into an electoral and constitutional maelstrom,” the officials said.

The election officials also say that Trump delayed the court’s awareness of the suit by several days by improperly using the state’s electronic-filing system for requesting emergency hearings. In a parallel case Trump filed earlier in state court, the president’s lawyer forgot to pay the required fee, delaying that case as well, Kemp and Raffensperger said.

“These votes were counted, hand counted during an audit, certified, recounted, and re-certified under Georgia law,” Kemp and Raffensperger said in the filing. “The electors have already met and cast their votes for president. The election, certification, and casting of ballots are final and over.”

U.S. District Court Judge Mark Cohen in Atlanta set a hearing in the case for Tuesday morning.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Georgia Electoral College Voters Cast Ballots Amid Protests © Bloomberg Georgia Electoral College Voters Cast Ballots Amid Protests

Brad Raffensperger

Photographer: Dustin Chambers/Bloomberg

The remedy Trump is seeking is almost certainly impossible. Congress votes to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory on Wednesday, and there are no remaining procedural steps before inauguration. Though some Republican members have said they will oppose certification, the outcome is not in doubt.

The president claims Georgia allowed unqualified individuals, including felons and people who are underage, to register and vote. The president also claims Georgia accepted votes from dead people and violated state law by sending unsolicited absentee ballots to voters.

Rejected Fraud Claims

Judges across the country have rejected dozens of lawsuits that tried to reverse Trump’s loss by alleging rampant voter fraud by Democratic officials and election workers on top of unhinged conspiracies about voting machines being infiltrated by agents of China and Iran. Trump raised many of these theories in his call with Raffensperger, who denied them as false.

Trump’s federal suit made many of the same allegations as an earlier one his campaign filed in state court against Raffensperger. A trial in the state case is scheduled for Friday before Georgia Superior Court Judge Adele Grubbs in Atlanta, though it’s possible the Jan. 6 certification will render the case moot.

The voter-fraud claims being pushed by Trump and indulged by many congressional Republicans have prompted fears that democracy itself is under threat. Trump’s call with Raffensperger has intensified those concerns.

Former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman said in a Monday press call arranged by the nonprofit Voter Protection Program that the call “moved this to a totally different level” because the president was asking an election official to change the result.

“This is actually about trying to steal the election by calling for a specific number of votes,” Whitman, a Republican, said.

(Updates with Georgia’s response to federal suit.)

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