A top election official from the state of Georgia has delivered a stinging rebuke to Donald Trump, calling on the US President to tone down his inflammatory rhetoric questioning the November 3 election result.
Speaking at a press conference, Republican Gabriel Sterling warned Mr Trump “it’s all gone too far”, while revealing his fear that “someone is going to get hurt”.
A clearly angry Mr Sterling, who oversaw the implementation of the state’s new voting system, demanded Mr Trump rein in his supporters, some of whom have taken to increasingly menacing tactics in the weeks following the election.
“Mr President, it looks like you likely lost the state of Georgia,” Mr Sterling said.
“We’re investigating; there’s always a possibility, I get it. You have the rights to go to the courts. What you don’t have the ability to do – and you need to step up and say this – is stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence. Someone is going to get hurt, someone is going to get shot, someone is going to get killed, and it’s not right. It’s not right.”
Mr Sterling also said that the wife of Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, had received “sexualised threats”.
Mr Raffensperger has been the target of constant attacks from the President over his defeat in Georgia.
Last week, Mr Trump had called Mr Raffensperger an “enemy of the people”, Mr Sterling noted, adding “that helped open the floodgates to this kind of crap.”
Mr Trump responded to Mr Sterling’s impassioned plea by tweeting baseless claims about the election Georgia and criticising the state’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp. Twitter flagged his tweet.
in the meantime, Mr Trump has hinted at a run for the presidency in 2024, as he maintains his refusal to concede the election.
Mr Trump’s lawyers continue to file legal challenges to the outcome, alleging electoral fraud without providing evidence.
State and federal election officials have repeatedly said there is no such evidence. Most of the lawsuits have been rejected by judges.
At a White House holiday reception on Tuesday night (local time), Mr Trump appeared to acknowledge those efforts could fail and in that case he would run again.
“We are trying to do another four years,” he told the assembled group, according to a Republican source who was at the event.
“Otherwise, I’ll see you in four years.”
There was a record turnout at the November 3 election, with Mr Biden winning more than 81 million votes. Mr Trump also got more than 74 million, indicating a significant political base from which to launch another campaign.
A source familiar with the internal debate said Mr Trump had been discussing with advisers not attending the inauguration ceremony on January 20 but instead announcing his 2024 bid that day.
The source said there had been no decision. Only a handful of outgoing US presidents have opted to miss the swearing-in of their successors.
While Mr Trump has limited his public appearances since the election to the bare minimum, he has kept up his torrent of tweets alleging electoral malfeasance.
On Wednesday (US time), he tweeted an extraordinary video in which he repeated unfounded accusations about the election being rigged and said he would keep fighting against the outcome.
He spoke from a lectern with the presidential seal, but to an apparently empty room. A two-minute version of the message was posted on his Twitter account, with a link to a 46-minute version on Facebook.
A day earlier, US Attorney-General William Barr, who has long been seen as a Trump ally, said the Justice Department had found no evidence of widespread fraud.
However, Mr Trump’s claims have gained traction among followers, helping to raise as much as $US170 million ($A230 million) for an “Election Defence Fund” that could be used for a host of future political activities, including another run for the presidency.
Biden pledges aid for workers
Meanwhile, President-elect Joe Biden has promised workers hit by the COVID-19 pandemic more aid is on the way.
Mr Biden, who has pledged to act quickly to provide more resources to fight the health crisis after he is inaugurated on January 20, told a group of workers and business owners on Wednesday that any emergency aid approved by Congress before he took office would be just a “down payment”.
Republicans and Democrats are trying to resolve a months-long stand-off over a stimulus package for businesses affected by coronavirus shutdowns as well as the millions who have lost jobs.
“My transition team is already working on what I will put forward to the next Congress to address the multiple crises we’re facing, especially the economic crisis and COVID,” Mr Biden told a roundtable in Delaware.
More than 270,000 people in the US have died of COVID-19, which is resurgent across the country. It leads the world in the number of infections as well as the number of daily deaths.
“I don’t want you to give up hope,” Mr Biden told the workers.
“Hang on, we’ll get through this.”