Trump looks to take down Raffensperger
Former President Donald Trump on Monday endorsed Rep. Jody Hice in a campaign to unseat Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in next year’s Republican primary, saying that "unlike" the incumbent, "Jody leads out front with integrity."
Trump publicly seethed about Raffensperger after the November election, when the secretary of state refused to support Trump's false claims that Georgia's 16 electoral votes were stolen from him. Top Raffensperger aides had publicly rebuked the president's conspiracy theories, warning in early December that it would lead to potential violence.
The then-president aggressively pressured Raffensperger, including in an early January call when Trump told Raffensperger that he should "find" a specific number of votes so that he could reverse Joe Biden's victory in the state. The call has exposed Trump to potential legal consequences, with Georgia prosecutors investigating whether he improperly tried to influence the election results.
Hice, who first won election to his east-central Georgia seat in 2014, is a staunch Trump ally who supported Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. He derided the Democratic-led push to impeach Trump over his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riot as “bogus.”
The 60-year-old congressmember savaged the secretary of state in his Monday campaign launch, saying that "What Brad Raffensperger did was create cracks in the integrity of our elections, which I wholeheartedly believe individuals took advantage of in 2020."
Shortly after Hice's announcement, Trump weighed in with his endorsement.
"I have 100% confidence in Jody to fight for Free, Fair, and Secure Elections in Georgia, in line with our beloved U.S. Constitution. Jody will stop the Fraud and get honesty into our Elections! Jody loves the people of Georgia, and has my Complete and Total Endorsement," Trump said in a statement through his political action committee, Save America PAC.
Trump has been fixated on Georgia as he maps out his plans for the 2022 midterms. The former president has been trying to recruit a primary opponent to GOP Gov. Brian Kemp, whom Trump has accused of doing too little to intervene in the state’s vote count. He has also publicly encouraged former NFL running back Herschel Walker to mount a Senate bid.
The former president also recently hosted former Sen. David Perdue at his South Florida resort as Perdue was weighing whether to challenge Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, before Perdue decided not to run.
Raffensperger and his aides have been preparing for a potential primary challenge since he broke with the president. Should he survive the primary, Raffensperger would also likely face a serious challenge from Democrats, who are eager to take the office.
“Few have done more to cynically undermine faith in our election than Jody Hice," Raffensperger said in a statement. "We saw in January what Georgia voters will do to candidates who use that rhetoric."
Former President Trump is showing no signs of wanting to unify the GOP even as party leaders scramble to smooth out divisions that they fear will be damaging in the 2022 midterm elections. In a Saturday night speech to attendees at a donor retreat in Florida, Trump railed against his perceived enemies in both parties and offered little, if any, reassurance that he would try to rally together a GOP riddled with internal divisions and desperate to regain governing power in Washington.
Facebook allowed the president of Honduras to artificially inflate the appearance of popularity on his posts for nearly a year after the company was first alerted to the activity. The astroturfing – the digital equivalent of a bussed-in crowd – was just one facet of a broader online disinformation effort that the administration has used to attack critics and undermine social movements, Honduran activists and scholars say. Facebook posts by Juan Orlando Hernández, an authoritarian rightwinger whose 2017 re-election is widely viewed as fraudulent.
Donald Trump and his Republican faithful faced ridicule on Monday after Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) posted an image of himself presenting the former president with the so-called “Champion for Freedom” award over the weekend. “President Trump fought for American workers, secured the border, and protected our constitutional rights,” Scott tweeted, alongside the image of himself with Trump holding a ceremonial dish.
Former Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Monday said the "unemployed" former President Trump has nothing better to do than stir up trouble following his departure from Washington. "Here's a guy who's unemployed, has nothing else to do but cause trouble. And clearly, it's obvious to me that he's not going away," Boehner said on "The View."