“How Brian Kemp Resisted Trump’s Pressure to Overturn the Georgia Election Results”

Long read in Politico Magazine from Greg Bluestein of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. An excerpt:

Ahead of a Dec. 3 fundraiser at Truist Park, Kemp called a meeting with the two senators and three of their top aides to hash the matter out. His office had been communicating with the senators’ campaigns on a daily basis about the legal problems with a special session. Perdue said his deputies didn’t always speak for him. He wanted to meet in person and talk it over face to face.

They gathered into a cramped room on the fringe of the stadium, a windowless event space with a few couches and a small bathroom. Like so many other instances in the runoff, the Republicans in the room felt that Trump had put them in an impossible bind.

After some idle chatter, Perdue made his position clear. The campaign aides who indicated he didn’t want to summon legislators back to the Capitol didn’t represent his stance on this issue, Perdue said. Looking Kemp directly in the eye, the senator told the governor that he wanted a special session to prove to the party’s base that their elected officials would go to the mat for the president. Trump could say whatever he wanted since he didn’t have a runoff to worry about, but Perdue still had a campaign to wage. He viewed a special session as a way to prove his worthiness to the GOP base without joining the ranks of the conspiracy theorists.

Kemp took it all in, then presented his own view. State lawmakers can’t retroactively change election law after a vote to help a candidate, he said. Not only was it constitutionally problematic to call a special session, he told them, but it would also put tremendous pressure on the state’s 236 lawmakers — and shift attention away from the Senate incumbents already struggling enough with internal party divisions.

“I have no problem being the bad guy,” he told the two senators. “I’ll take the arrows to make sure y’all win.”

(Kemp’s aides dispute this account, saying Perdue never directly asked Kemp to call a special session.)

Three days later, the governor delivered a similar message to a room full of state lawmakers at a training session in Athens, Ga., making a point to let his words to the gathered Republicans sink in.

“This is not an option under state or federal law,” Kemp said. “The statute is clear. The legislature can only direct an alternative method for choosing presidential electors if the election was not able to be held on the date set by federal law.”

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