Wednesday, February 21

January 6 hearing: Georgia officials to testify on Trump’s 2020 attacks election system

The U.S. House select committee plans to hold its next public hearing about the events surrounding the January 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol insurrection. A major focus will be on Georgia as election officials testify before the House Committee.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Gabriel Sterling, Chief Operating Officer of the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, both received subpoenas to appear before the committee. Their testimony could center around a phone call with Trump in which he said, “All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have.”

In December 2020, Sterling called on the former president to condemn death threats aimed at him, Raffensperger and other election employees when Trump and other top Republican leaders attacked Georgia’s election system.

“This has got to stop. Mr. President, you have not condemned these actions or this language,” Sterling said in December 2020.

Both Raffensperger and Sterling have already testified behind closed doors to a Fulton County grand jury, which is investigating possible interference in the 2020 election.

Who is Gabriel Sterling?

Sterling has served Georgia’s Secretary of State office in some capacity since January 2019, according to LinkedIn. 

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Sterling condemned the Trump’s harsh election rhetoric after President Joe Biden narrowly won the state. In a press conference at the Georgia state capitol, Sterling said, “Someone’s gonna get shot,” in response to death threats in the wake of the 2020 election. 

Sterling said he thought the former president’s comments during the fallout of the election cost Republicans Georgia Senate runoffs in January 2021, before the U.S. Capitol riot. 

“When you say ‘your’ vote doesn’t count’ and you lay your hands on people who say ‘don’t come and vote’ then you spark a civil war in a GOP that needed to be united to get through a tough fight like this in a state that has been trending, in the point of view of Republicans, the other way for years now,” Sterling said.

Sterling also warned Biden to chose his world carefully, when he referred to the state’s subsequent voting law as “Jim Crow 2.0”

Who is Brad Raffensperger?

Raffensperger recently won the 2022 GOP primary to defend his seat as Secretary of State, beating Trump-backed Jody Hice. 

Before he was elected as Secretary of State in 2018, Raffesperger was the CEO of a contracting and design firm.

He served on term in the Georgia General Assembly from 2015 to 2019.

Trump endorsed Brad Raffensperger in Secretary of State runoff in 2018, but the tensions surrounding the 2020 election placed him at odds with the former president.

In a 2021 book, Raffensperger defended his handling of the 2020 election, saying Trump call to ‘find’ votes in Georgia was a threat.

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Raffensperger backed Georgia’s election reform, calling many election changes ‘solid’ in a one-on-one interview with FOX 5 Atlanta.

Trump phone call with Georgia elections officials

In a recorded a call with Raffensperger, Trump claimed he won the 2020 election in Georgia.

“All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” Trump said. “Because we won the state.”

“President Trump, we’ve had several lawsuits, and we’ve had to respond in court to the lawsuits and the contentions,” Raffensperger said. “We don’t agree that you have won.”

Election officials in Georgia and Washington D.C. have found no evidence of widespread voter fraud that suggests Trump won the 2020 presidential election

January 6 hearing recap

The January 6 committee has shared testimony from witnesses, including the former president’s daughter and son-in-law, who advised against him declaring victory on election night. 

President Donald Trump’s former political director, Bill Stepien, aide Jason Miller and committee member Liz Cheney say that lawyer Rudy Giuliani had too much to drink before advising Trump on election night 2020. 

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Former Attorney General William Barr’s recorded testimony that he found Trump “detached from reality” with some of his claims about election fraud. Ivanka Trump said trusted Barr’s assessment of the fraud allegations and her husband Jared Kushner advised his father-in-law against taking advice from Giuliani.

January 6 hearings focus on Georgia

Georgia’s change from red to blue put the state’s election process under the microscope during the hearings.

Former law professor John Eastman spoke the day of the Capitol riot about a potential appeal of Georgia election results and asked for a presidential pardon.

Former Atlanta-based U.S. Attorney BJay Pak testified he found no evidence of widespread election fraud and resigned days prior to the riots at the U.S. Capitol.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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