'Someone's gonna get shot': Georgia official calls out Trump, senators over harsh election rhetoric
ATLANTA - Gabriel Sterling, the Voting Systems Manager for the Georgia Secretary of State's office, came out swinging during a press conference Tuesday afternoon after weeks of harassment, threats, and division.
"It has all gone too far," Sterling said. "This has to stop!”
Sterling started the press conference calling out President Donald Trump and Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, who he said he still fully supports, for not coming out against the on-going threats being made on Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, his wife, and numerous elections officials and contractors.
"Be the bigger man here and step in and tell your supporters to stop," Sterling, a life-long conservative, directly challenged the president.
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He said the “straw that broke the camel’s back” was a 20-something Gwinnett County contractor with Dominion, the company entrusted with Georgia’s new voting system, had a noose out in front of his home with his name on it after a video was posted online claiming to show him “manipulate data.”
“He just took a job,” an emotional Sterling said adding he chose to have a high-profile job, but the young man who was threatened was just doing his job. “People started accusing him of treason."
Sterling asserted the contractor did nothing wrong and was transferring a report on batches so that he could read it.
“Mr. President, you have not condemned these actions or this language. Senators, you have not condemned this language or these actions,” 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.”
He also outlined how Raffensperger’s wife has been receiving "sexualized threats" on her personal phone.
"…Death threats, physical threats, intimidation is too much. It's not right. They've lost the moral high ground," Sterling said.
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Over the weekend, trucks flying “Trump” and "Stop the Steal" flags drove up and down the street outside of Secretary Brad Raffensperger's property, honking their horns as they passed by. The group was protesting what they perceive as a stolen vote.
"Someone is gonna get hurt, someone is gonna get shot, someone is gonna get killed," Sterling said.
Sterling has also been the target of threats and said he required police protection at his home during the certification of the presidential race.
"I'm kind of pissed," Sterling said about Georgia’s two current Senators who last month called for Raffensperger's resignation. He said that the president calling the secretary of state an enemy of the people “opened the floodgates" to the intimidation, harassment, and threats by those who have opposed the election results in Georgia that show Joe Biden won. Both senators are in a heated runoff scheduled for Jan. 5.
"You have to be responsible on your rhetoric,” Sterling said. "You have to be responsible on your statement. You have to be responsible on your deeds, that shouldn't be too much to ask."
Seven hours after Sterling's comments, the president tweeted in response:
"Rigged Election. Show signatures and envelopes. Expose the massive voter fraud in Georgia. What is Secretary of State and @BrianKempGA afraid of. They know what we’ll find!!!"
SEE MORE: Democrats quick to respond to Georgia official's calls to end harsh election rhetoric
Tim Murtaugh, director of communications for the Trump 2020 campaign issued the following statement in response to Sterling’s comments:
“The campaign is focused on ensuring that all legal votes are counted and all illegal votes are not. No one should engage in threats or violence, and if that has happened, we condemn that fully.”
Casey Black, a spokesperson for Sen. Perdue released a statement that reads:
"Senator Perdue condemns violence of any kind, against anybody. Period. We won’t apologize for addressing the obvious issues with the way our state conducts its elections. Georgians deserve accountability and improvements to that process — and we’re fighting to make sure the January 5th election is safe, secure, transparent, and accurate."
Stephen Lawson, a spokesperson for Sen. Loeffler release a statement that reads:
“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. We also condemn inaction and lack of accountability in our election system process—and won’t apologize for calling it out. Senator Loeffler will continue fighting to ensure we have a fair, trusted, and accurate election because the future of our country is at stake.”
SEE MORE: While dealing with death threats, Raffensperger says recount tracking toward Biden win in Georgia
Raffensperger and 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.
The comments came the day before a midnight deadline to complete a recount requested by the Trump campaign since the vote came within one percent. Sterling said as of 3 p.m., 91 of the 159 counties in the state have completed their rescan of the ballots. He said all counties should be complete by the deadline.
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