On a day that the president spent tweeting a near-constant stream of spurious voter fraud claims to his 88.8 million followers, an emotional Georgia election official pleaded with Donald Trump to stop promoting lies about the election before someone gets hurt. Gabriel Sterling, voting system implementation manager for the state of Georgia and a Republican, issued the emotional plea from a dias at the Georgia state capitol.
“Mr. President, it looks like you likely lost the state of Georgia,” Sterling said. “You have the right 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 acts of violence. Someone’s going to get hurt; someone’s going to get shot; someone’s going to get killed. And it’s not right.”
Sterling said he made the decision to speak out Tuesday after Trump campaign lawyer Joe DiGenova called for Chris Krebs, the former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency [CISA] to be “taken out at dawn and shot.” DiGenova’s violent rhetoric came on the heels of another threat, made against a 20-year-old election worker.
“Joe DiGenova today asked for Chris Krebs — a patriot who ran CISA — to be shot,” Sterling said, his voice shaking. “A twenty-something tech in Gwinnett County today has death threats and a noose put out saying he should be hung for treason because he was transferring a report on batches from an EMS to a county computer so he could read it.”
Outraged Georgia election official decries threatening rhetoric against election staff: “Mr. President…senators, you have not condemned this language or these actions. This has to stop! We need you to step up—and if you’re going to take a position of leadership, show some.” pic.twitter.com/kPwM2EI87y
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) December 1, 2020
Sterling called on Georgia Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler — both of whom have lent credence to Trump’s conspiracies — to “show some leadership” and condemn the violent threats directed at workers and election officials alike in the weeks since Joe Biden narrowly claimed the state.
“This has to stop. We need you to step up, and if you could take a position of leadership, show some,” Sterling said. “This is the backbone of democracy, and all of you who have not said a damn word are complicit in this. Fight for every single vote. Go through your due process. We encourage that! Use your First Amendment — That’s fine. Death threats? Physical threats? Intimidation? It’s too much, it’s not right. They’ve lost the moral high ground to claim that it is.”
Both Loeffler and Perdue, who are campaigning in a runoff election for two seats that will decide the balance of the Senate come January, have called for Sterling’s boss, Republican Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, to resign. Shortly after Loeffler and Perdue came out against him, Raffensperger told the Atlanta Journal Constitution this weekend, he and his wife began receiving death threats. On Tuesday, Sterling said that Raffenspergers have had caravans of protesters outside their home.
“The straw that broke the camel’s back today is this 20-year-old contractor for a voting system company just trying to do his job… I talked to Dominion today, and they said he’s one of the better ones they got. His family is getting harassed now. There’s a noose out there with his name on it. It’s just not right,” Sterling said. “I’ve got police protection outside my house. Fine. I took a higher profile job. The secretary ran for office, his wife knew that too. [But] this kid? He took a job. He just took a job, and it’s just wrong. I can’t begin to explain the level of anger I have right now over this, and every American, every Georgian — Republican and Democrat alike — should have that same level of anger.”