'Someone’s going to get killed': Georgia elections official urges Trump to rein in supporters

Associated Press
·3-min read
Gabriel Sterling, a top Georgia elections official, admonished the president and Georgia’s two US senators  - AP
Gabriel Sterling, a top Georgia elections official, admonished the president and Georgia’s two US senators - AP

A top Georgia elections official on Tuesday lashed out angrily at the rhetoric surrounding the election and the threats of violence that have resulted, specifically calling on President Donald Trump to rein in his supporters.

Gabriel Sterling is a Republican who oversaw the implementation of the state’s new voting system. During a routine news conference at the state Capitol to provide an update on the recount of the presidential race requested by Mr Trump, Mr Sterling admonished the president and Georgia’s two US senators, who are both locked in tight runoff races against Democrats and have called on GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to resign over claims that he mishandled the election.

Watch: Barr sees no sign of major U.S. vote fraud

"Mr. President, you have not condemned these actions or this language. Senators, you have not condemned this language or these actions," Mr Sterling said, visibly angry. "This has to stop. We need you to step up, and if you’re going to take a position of leadership, show some."

Mr Trump, though, didn’t take the upbraiding to heart, reiterating unproven claims of fraud relating to mail-in ballots in a tweet late on Tuesday that replied to an Atlanta TV journalist who tweeted about Mr Sterling’s denunciation.

"Rigged Election," Mr Trump tweeted.

People have been driving in caravans past Mr Raffensperger’s home, have come onto his property and have sent sexualised threats to his wife’s mobile phone, said Mr Sterling. Mr Raffensperger and Mr Sterling both have police stationed outside their homes, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has said it’s investigating possible threats against officials to determine their credibility.

Mr Sterling said his anger boiled over when he learned that a contractor with Dominion Voting Systems helping with the recount effort in suburban Gwinnett County received death threats after someone shot video of him transferring a report to a county computer and falsely said the young man was manipulating election data.

"There’s a noose out there with his name on it. That’s not right," Mr Sterling said, adding that the contractor didn’t seek the spotlight by taking a high-profile position like Mr Sterling or run for office like Mr Raffensperger. "This kid took a job. He just took a job."

Mr Trump last week called Mr Raffensperger an "enemy of the people," Mr Sterling noted, adding, "That helped open the floodgates to this kind of crap."

Mr Sterling urged the president to step up and tell his supporters not to commit acts of violence. "Someone’s going to get hurt. Someone’s going to get shot. Someone’s going to get killed," Mr Sterling said.

Trump campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh said in a statement on Tuesday evening, "No one should engage in threats or violence, and if that has happened, we condemn that fully."

The campaigns for Republican US Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler both issued statements on Tuesday evening condemning violence but also criticising election officials, according to news outlets.

"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," Loeffler campaign spokesman Stephen Lawson said.

"We also condemn inaction and lack of accountability in our election system process - and won’t apologise for calling it out."

Watch: 'Numbers don't lie' - Biden wins GA after recount