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Gabriel Sterling, Georgia elections official who harshly criticized Trump, to testify before grand jury

Special grand jury for Georgia election probe
Special grand jury chosen for Georgia's Trump election inquiry 05:47

A Georgia elections official who in 2020 gave a fiery press conference rebuking former President Donald Trump for his efforts to overturn the state's election results will testify Wednesday before a grand jury investigating whether Trump's actions broke the law.

Gabriel Sterling, a Republican, was the voting system implementation manager in Georgia during the 2020 election, which Trump lost. In press conferences on Dec. 1 of that year and Jan. 4, 2021, he harshly criticized Trump in response to what he said were false claims about voter fraud and threats to the state's election workers.

"Stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence," Sterling implored on Dec. 1, 2020. 

The following month, he said of Trump's claims: "This is all easily, provably false. Yet the president persists. By doing so, it undermines Georgia's faith in the electoral system."

Now, a year and a half later, Sterling is set to address the grand jury considering whether Trump should be charged for his behavior in the days and weeks following his 2020 loss in Georgia.

Sterling, who is now the Georgia Secretary of State's chief operating officer, said during the Dec. 2 press conference that his wife had received "sexualized threats" and an election contractor was targeted with death threats and a noose. 

A month later, Trump was recorded during an infamous phone call in which he prodded Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger "to find 11,780 votes," the exact number needed for Trump to win. That call is the focal point of the Fulton County investigation. Raffensperger testified to the grand jury on June 2.

Two days after Trump's phone call, Sterling gave another press conference in which he systematically debunked claims made by Trump about the election — an event he dubbed "anti-disinformation Monday."

"None of that is true": Georgia election official debunks claims about voter fraud 24:42

Among the claims he addressed was a conspiracy theory raised by Trump on his call with Raffensperger that the voting machine manufacturer supposedly "moved the inner parts of the machines and replaced them with other parts."

Sterling responded incredulously during his press conference.

"I don't even know what that means, it's not a real thing. That's not happening. The president mentioned it on the call. ... That's, again, not real," Sterling said.

During a "60 Minutes" interview that aired eight days later, Sterling — who said he voted for Trump — continued to criticize Trump's claims as "fantastical, unreasonable. Lacking in any factual reality."

Trump said in a Jan. 20, 2021 statement, "My phone call to the Secretary of State of Georgia was perfect."

A spokesperson for Trump claimed in a text to CBS News last month that an "illegal ballot trafficking ring" had influenced the outcome of Georgia's election, referring to an unproven assertion often made by Trump and his supporters. The state conducted multiple recounts to verify its election results.

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