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Why the Jan. 6 Committee Focuses on Trump’s Georgia Plot

The January 6 commission will meet on Tuesday for its fourth public hearing with a state firmly in sight: Georgia.

The site of a surprise victory for Joe Biden in 2020, the southern state was previously seen as a stronghold and reliable source of Electoral College votes for Republican candidates, despite deep Democratic constituencies in Atlanta and some other areas. That changed when Donald Trump became the first Republican to lose the state since 1992.

In the weeks following his shock defeat, Mr. Trump devoted much of his time and energy to the Peach State and its elected officials: at the top of his list were two elected Republicans at the scale of the state, Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who according to multiple media outlets were both forced to resist overtures by Mr. Trump and his legal team to interfere in the election.

Mr. Kemp has faced personal calls to his aides asking him to use executive power to block or temporarily suspend his state from certifying its election results. And he has also faced very public demands to call a special session of the Georgia state legislature to declare the state voters for Mr. Trump or launch an unwarranted and resource-consuming investigation into allegations without foundation of fraud in the state.

And the pressure directed against Mr. Raffensperger has been pushed to the extreme. In a now infamous phone call, the Republican president explained to a state official who he said owed him allegiance that he “just wanted[ed] to find 11,780 votes,” enough to put him over Mr. Biden’s vote total in the state.

The former president also warned the secretary of state and his lawyer, Ryan Germany, that they could face criminal charges if they did not investigate the alleged fraud that Mr Trump had insisted on.

“You know what they did and you don’t report it,” Mr. Trump said in the infamous phone call. “You know, he’s a criminal – it’s a criminal offence. And you know, you can’t let that happen. It’s a big risk for you and for Ryan, your attorney.

Mr. Kemp and Mr. Raffensperger would later go on to face and defeat major Trump-backed challengers as a result of their actions. And on Tuesday, Mr. Raffensperger will testify before the Jan. 6 committee and provide unprecedented insight into the extent of a sitting president’s efforts to politically pressure state officials to cancel an election.

Gabriel Sterling, Mr Raffensperger’s first deputy, will also testify. Mr. Sterling publicly condemned Mr. Trump’s 2020 overtures, accusing him of “inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence” just weeks before that exact scenario played out and thousands of supporters Trump invade the US Capitol, battling law enforcement and forcing their way inside.

The January 6 committee is not the only body examining Mr. Trump’s efforts in Georgia. A Fulton County, Georgia, district attorney is also overseeing a grand jury for possible racketeering charges over the issue of the president’s efforts to pressure state officials. Mr. Raffensperger testified before this grand jury last month.

The candidates chosen by Mr Trump suffered humiliating defeats in the Georgian primaries in May, and the ex-president’s choice to face incumbent Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock sees his campaign battered by new revelations that the candidate has at least two children with separated wives whom he did not recognize beforehand.

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Post expires at 3:21am on Friday July 1st, 2022