Trump pushes baseless voter fraud claims at Georgia rally on eve of crucial Senate runoffs
As President Trump campaigned in Georgia on Monday night for Republicans facing Senate runoff elections, he also focused on his own election. During the hour and 20 minute rally, the president repeated his false claims that he won Georgia and the presidential election — and said he hopes Vice President Mike Pence "comes through for us" when Congress meets this week to tally the Electoral College vote, although Pence does not have the power to overturn the election results.
The runoff elections will determine which party controls the Senate. Republicans can maintain their hold on the chamber if just one of their candidates win, while Democrats need to win both to achieve a 50-50 split, which would make Vice President-elect Kamala Harris the tie-breaking vote.
"There's no way we lost Georgia," Mr. Trump said when he walked onstage, calling the election "rigged." "I had two elections. I won both of them," Mr. Trump falsely told the cheering crowd.
Mr. Trump insisted that he and his allies will keep fighting, wrongly suggesting that Democrats will not take the White House, although Mr. Biden will become president on January 20.
"If the liberal Democrats take the Senate and the White House — and they're not taking this White House — we're going to fight like hell, I'll tell you right now," Mr. Trump said.
Part of that fight, the president suggested, involves Pence. Pence and the Department of Justice last week said the power to count the votes lies with the House and the Senate.
"I hope Mike Pence comes through for us," Mr. Trump said.
Republican incumbent Senator David Perdue led his Democratic opponent Jon Ossoff by more than 80,000 votes, but failed to get the 50% needed to avoid a runoff. The other race was a special election to fill retiring Senator Johnny Isakson's seat. Democrat Raphael Warnock received the most votes, but the prominent Republicans, incumbent Senator Kelly Loeffler and Congressman Doug Collins, received more votes combined than he did. Mr. Trump began his rally by falsely claiming he won Georgia and the presidential election.
Perdue, who is in quarantine after coming into contact with someone who has COVID-19, appeared to the crowd in a video before Mr. Trump took the stage.
Mr. Trump also welcomed on stage Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has touted QAnon conspiracy theories and doubted the events of September 11, 2001.
Over the weekend, Mr. Trump called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and pressured him and other officials to "find" enough votes in the state's presidential election to make him the winner, according to audio of the call obtained by CBS News.
During the call, which Mr. Trump had revealed in a tweet earlier Sunday, the president told Raffensperger, "All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state."
On Monday, Mr. Trump threatened to campaign against Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. Kemp has supported Mr. Trump, but the president has grown frustrated with him because he hasn't done enough to help him in Georgia.
"I'll be here in about a year and a half campaigning against your governor, I guarantee you," the president said, to a cheering crowd.
Mr. Biden won the state's 16 Electoral College votes in November, carrying the state by more than 11,000 votes. Raffensperger recertified Georgia's results in early December.
A source familiar with the matter told CBS News that Raffensperger's office received 18 phone call attempts from Mr. Trump since November 3 but Saturday was the first time the two officials connected.
More than 3 million Georgians voted early, with 2.07 million of those voting in person and 928,000 by mail, according to Georgia Votes.
Mr. Biden campaigned in Atlanta on Monday for Ossoff and Warnock, and Harris campaigned in Georgia on Sunday.
Perdue, meanwhile, went into quarantine on December 31 after coming into contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19, missing the last crucial days on the campaign trail.
Adam Brewster, Tim Perry, Melissa Quinn and Grace Segers contributed to this report.
for more features.