President Donald Trump expanded his extraordinary efforts to overturn the election Saturday, attempting to pressure Georgia’s governor to force a special session of the legislature to change the result, while using an evening rally for two GOP Senate candidates to rant about his own grievances and thrash Republican leaders who have not done his bidding.

It was more evidence that the President will spend the remaining days of his presidency ignoring the deadly course of the pandemic, spreading falsehoods that amount to an attack on democracy and nursing his own grudges even if that works against the interests of his own party.

The purpose of Trump’s visit to Valdosta was to get voters mobilized and primed to support Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in January’s Senate runoffs that will determine control of the US Senate.
Trump’s relentless claims of voter fraud in Georgia have alarmed many GOP leaders who fear they may lead many Republican voters to stay home.

But in his seemingly endless narcissism, Trump found it difficult to keep the focus on Loeffler and Perdue, repeatedly turning back to his own complaints and made only passing references to the alarming rise in Covid-19 cases nationally at a rally where almost no one wore masks and there was no social distancing.

He made up fantastical stories about votes in suitcases, re-litigated his election tallies in battleground states and suggested that he will be successful in reversing the November results where President-elect Joe Biden beat him with 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232. “We will still win it,” he said, even though there is no means for him to do so.

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud and many states have already certified their results as the vast majority of Trump’s baseless legal challenges go down in defeat, meaning that he is merely trying to delay the inevitable as he fights Biden’s ascent to the White House.

During the Georgia speech, which included a video showcasing his fake claims about election fraud, he alternated between freewheeling lines and his teleprompter script — occasionally trying to thread the needle between asking Georgians to get out and vote, but then doing further harm to his party by inaccurately claiming that Georgia’s election system is fraudulent. The voter registration deadline is Monday and early voting begins December 14.

“This election was rigged and we can’t let it happen to two of the greatest, most respected people in Washington,” he said, pointing to Loeffler and Perdue. “We can’t let it happen again. Your governor could stop it very easily if he knew what the hell he was doing.”

The competing messages were on full display when Trump invited Loeffler and Perdue to the stage to make brief remarks. Loeffler warned the crowd that if they don’t vote, Republicans will lose control of the Senate. But the crowd seemed much more interested in the President’s claims, drowning out the two candidates by chanting “Stop the steal” and “Fight for Trump!”

Trump called their Democratic rivals, Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff “extreme,” and at one point said he understands the inclination among many of his supporters to sit out the election. But he urged them not to do so. “If you don’t vote, the socialists and the communists — they win,” he said.

“The answer to the Democrats’ fraud is not to stay at home; that’s what (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi and (Senate Minority Leader Chuck) Schumer, that’s what they want you to do — stay at home,” Trump said. “If you want to do something to them — I don’t want to use the word revenge, but it is a sense of revenge — to the Democrats, you show up and vote in record numbers.”

There is no evidence of systematic fraud by Democrats, and Biden won Georgia by 12,000 votes. Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, a Republican, said Sunday that the falsehoods Trump is spreading are hurting his party’s chances in the runoff elections.

“I worry that this continuous, you know, fanning of the flames around misinformation puts us in a negative position with regards to the January 5 runoff,” Duncan told CNN’s Jake Tapper Sunday on “State of the Union.” “The mountains of misinformation are not helping the process, they’re only hurting it. And Jake, I worry we are handing off a playbook to the Democrats for January 5, and certainly I can’t think of a worse playbook to hand off over the last four or five weeks to the Democrats.”

President Donald Trump holds a rally to support Republican Senate candidates at Valdosta Regional Airport in Valdosta, Georgia on December 5, 2020.(Photo by Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP via Getty Images)
President Donald Trump holds a rally to support Republican Senate candidates at Valdosta Regional Airport in Valdosta, Georgia on December 5, 2020.(Photo by Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP via Getty Images)


Trump’s un-American effort to overturn Georgia’s result

On Saturday morning, Trump continued his assault on democracy by taking the shocking step of calling Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and asking him to urge state legislators to use the Electoral College system to overturn Biden’s surprise victory in the state in November.

The President also demanded that Kemp order an audit of absentee ballot signatures. Kemp refused to call a special session and said he does not have the authority to force the audit. The White House declined to comment on the call, but the dispute between the two men soon spilled in to public view on Twitter.

Kemp, a Republican, defended his response to the President in a tweet.
“As I told the President this morning, I’ve publicly called for a signature audit three times (11/20, 11/24, 12/3) to restore confidence in our election process and to ensure that only legal votes are counted in Georgia,” the governor tweeted.

Trump soon replied on Twitter, “But you never got the signature verification! Your people are refusing to do what you ask. What are they hiding? At least immediately ask for a Special Session of the Legislature. That you can easily, and immediately, do.”

The President continued attacking Kemp at the rally — calling on him to “get a lot tougher” on Trump’s manufactured claims of voter fraud and stating that Kemp should “be ashamed of himself.” Kemp did not attend the event, his spokesman said, because of the sudden death of a close friend of the family on Friday.

On his way to Georgia Saturday afternoon, Trump attacked both Kemp and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, who is also a Republican, for refusing to go along with his efforts to reverse the election results in those states.

“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,” Trump tweeted. “If they were with us, we would have already won both Arizona and Georgia.”

“Republicans will NEVER forget this,” he added in a second tweet.

President ignores dangerous coronavirus spread

The President made only a few passing references to the coronavirus pandemic Saturday night, claiming credit for the rapid development of multiple vaccines, for example, and stating, at one point, that Congress should send more emergency aid to struggling Americans, whose benefits are expiring at the end of this month.

But he once again gathered thousands of unmasked people to an event aimed at stroking his ego, flaunting guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and needlessly putting his supporters at risk while setting a terrible example for the country with his lack of precautions as he has done so often throughout the pandemic.

The discussion over how much state and local governments will need to distribute the vaccines is still a major point of contention as lawmakers try to work out a compromise to help jobless Americans before they recess for the holidays. On Sunday, Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia told Tapper that a proposal for another coronavirus stimulus package could come as early as Monday.

“We have got the top line numbers done,” Warner said. “We are working right now on language so that we can have — as early as tomorrow — a piece of legislation.”

Warner said the $908 billion emergency stimulus package that would span four months “will give targeted relief for the unemployed; for people in food insecurity; rental assistance; small businesses that have run out of their (Paycheck Protection Program) funds and additional funds to those minority businesses that have been extraordinarily hit hard.”

The package is also expected to include $16 billion for vaccine development and distribution, as well as Covid-19 testing and tracing.
Warner noted it would have additional assistance for broadband “which we all know is an academic necessity and additional dollars around the vaccine distribution; assistance for hospitals.”

The President has largely abdicated his leadership role in stopping the spread of the virus or guiding an emergency relief package through Congress as medical experts and epidemiologists beg Americans to mask up and stay home. In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Thursday, Biden said he will ask Americans to wear their masks for the first 100 days of his presidency.

Moncef Slaoui, the head of the US government’s Operation Warp Speed — which is charged with helping to develop and distribute a vaccine against Covid-19 — on Sunday praised Biden’s plan to ask all Americans to mask up. On Saturday, the United States saw the second highest number of people hospitalized with Covid-19 since the pandemic began, according to the Covid Tracking Project, and medical experts are bracing for a surge in deaths.

“I think it’s a good idea. It’s never too late. This pandemic is ravaging the country. We all need to take our precautions, wear our masks, wash our hands, keep our distance, remain aware that this virus is a killer,” Slaoui told Tapper.

“We have a vaccine. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but we will not all have the vaccine in our arms before May or June, so we need to be very cautious and vigilant,” Slaoui said.

Slaoui said that he hopes there will be a “quite significant” decrease in morbidity and mortality within the elderly population by the end of January as the vaccine gets distributed. He noted that the vaccine’s efficacy “actually starts reasonably quickly” after the first dose and is then maintained after the second dose is administered.

“We should be able to have immunized that full population (of people in long-term care facilities), and the health care workers that take care of them by the end of the month of December or by the middle of the month of January,” Slaoui said.

Meanwhile as cases skyrocket, more than 33 million Californians will be under a stay-at-home order beginning late Sunday night, including the cities of Los Angeles and San Diego, after the intensive care unit capacity in two regions of the state fell below 15%. When they fell below that threshold, it triggered the stay-at-home mandate that Gov. Gavin Newsom put in place last week to try to get hospitalizations under control.

California and many other states are worried about the fact that the initial doses of the available vaccine will not be enough to vaccinate their most critical populations.

Dr. Jeremy Faust, an emergency room physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said the difference between the state of the pandemic now and this past spring “is that this is all over the country. It is out of control.”

“The reason that we may not be seeing apocalyptic scenes in the hospitals just yet, is that in the spring, it was all kind of concentrated into a few hotspots,” Faust told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Saturday night. “Now, the whole country is a brewing hot spot. My concern is that a couple weeks from now, it won’t just be a couple of hospitals, or a couple of regions or states where they are running out of ICU beds — which is happening — but it will finally be the whole country.”

“We need to absolutely watch that. Because once we run out of hospital beds, we will face something the likes of which we’ve never seen before,” Faust said.

As reported by CNN