US President Donald Trump has appeared at a rally in Georgia for Republican Sensators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue and recycled the falsehood that he won the state.
“You know we won Georgia, just so you understand,” Trump told the large crowd gathered for the first post-election rally for the president, in Valdosta.
In fact, the official results record that president-elect Joe Biden won the state of Georgia by about 12,500 votes out of five million cast.
Trump said he travelled to Georgia to help ensure the two Republicans win what are probably the most important Senate runoffs in US history.
First Lady Melania Trump kicked off the rally by telling Georgians that it’s more important than ever “that you exercise your rights as a citizen and vote”.
Earlier, Trump has fruitlessly pressed Georgia’s governor to call a special legislative session aimed at overturning the presidential election results in that state as Trump’s fixation with his defeat overshadowed his party’s campaign to save its majority in the Senate.
Trump and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp spoke by phone hours before Trump was to appear at a rally in Valdosta, Georgia, where Republicans hoped the president would dedicate his energy to imploring their supporters to vote in two runoff elections January 5.
But it remained at open question whether his first post-election political rally would be a mission to help his party or himself.
Hours before the event, Trump asked Kemp in the phone call to order the legislative session; the governor refused, according to a senior government official in Georgia with knowledge of the call who was not authorised to discuss the private conversation and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
A person close to the White House who was briefed on the matter verified that account of the call. Trump’s request was first reported by the Washington Post.
Between Governor @DougDucey of Arizona and Governor @BrianKempGA of Georgia, the Democrat Party could not be happier. They fight harder against us than do the Radical Left Dems. If they were with us, we would have already won both Arizona and Georgia…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 5, 2020
According to a tweet from the governor, Trump also asked him to order an audit of absentee ballots from the presidential race in his state, a step Kemp is not empowered to take because he has no authority to interfere in the electoral process on Trump’s behalf.
Trump’s personal contact with the governor demonstrated he is intent on amplifying his conspiratorial and debunked theories of electoral fraud even as Georgia Republicans want him to turn his focus to the January 5 runoff elections and encourage their supporters to get out and vote.