DECEMBER 1, 2020
A Georgia election official on Tuesday condemned threats of physical violence and intimidation against election workers and officials, pleading with President Donald Trump to denounce the threats and urging both of the state’s Republican senators to intervene.
“It’s all gone too far,” said Gabriel Sterling, the voting systems implementation manager for the Georgia secretary of state’s office, during a Tuesday afternoon news conference at the Georgia Capitol.
Sterling, a Republican, grew visibly emotional as he described an incident in which a video of a Dominion Voting Machines contractor in Gwinnett County was spread online with claims of vote manipulation. After the video circulated, the man was accused of treason and found a noose outside his house. The man’s family members have received death threats, Sterling said.
“You need to step up and say this … stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence,” Sterling said, addressing the President. “Someone’s going to get hurt, someone’s going to get shot, someone’s going to get killed, and it’s not right.”
“Be the bigger man here and stop — step in,” Sterling added. “Tell your supporters, don’t be violent, don’t intimidate. All that’s wrong, it’s un-American.”
Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told CNN on Tuesday that “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.”
CNN has reached out to the White House for comment.
For weeks, Trump has made a series of unfounded claims of fraud in Georgia, for which there is no evidence. Republican officials rebuffed Trump’s calls to overturn the state’s election results more than a week after they certified Joe Biden as the winner. Biden won the state with more than 12,000 votes.
The Trump administration has crusaded against whistleblowers and others who have spoken out in opposition during the President’s term and refused to adopt his conspiratorial view of the election. In particularly extreme remarks Monday, an attorney for the Trump campaign issued a call for violence against a former cybersecurity official who had rejected the President’s unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud. The attorney, Joe diGenova, later tried to walk back his remarks by portraying them as a joke.
Sterling criticized the incident on Tuesday, saying that diGenova, a former US attorney, “knows better.”
Sterling said he has had police protection at his home, and that Georgia GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s wife has received “sexualized threats.” Threats against Raffensperger were said to be bolstered after Trump called Raffensperger an “enemy of the people.”
The elections official said he supports Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, who are running in Georgia’s runoff election in January, but added that “they need to step up on this particular thing.”
“This is the backbone of democracy, and all of you who have not said a damn word are complicit in this,” Sterling said.
He added, “Death threats, physical threats, intimidation. It’s too much. It’s not right. They’ve lost the moral high ground to claim that it is.”
In response to Sterling’s remarks, Perdue campaign communications director John Burke said that the senator denounced violence in general while maintaining that there were unspecified problems with the state’s election methodology. There is no evidence of widespread election fraud in the state.
“Senator Perdue condemns violence of any kind, against anybody. Period,” Burke said in a statement to CNN. “We won’t apologize for addressing the obvious issues with the way our state conducts its elections. Georgians deserve accountability and improvements to that process — and we’re fighting to make sure the January 5th election is safe, secure, transparent, and accurate.”
Loeffler campaign communications director Stephen Lawson tweeted a similar sentiment, denouncing violence and alleging without evidence that the state election system was somehow tainted.
“Like many officials, as someone who has been the subject of threats, of course Senator Loeffler condemns violence of any kind. How ridiculous to even suggest otherwise,” Lawson wrote. “We also condemn inaction and lack of accountability in our election system process —and won’t apologize for calling it out. Senator Loeffler will continue fighting to ensure we have a fair, trusted, and accurate election because the future of our country is at stake.”