Georgia lawmakers hosted former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani on Thursday for a second time to air unchecked claims of fraud in Georgia’s presidential election.
Giuliani, who is President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, rolled out witnesses and experts involved in a lawsuit to overturn the election results at a Georgia House Governmental Affairs Committee hearing.
Many of those same witnesses spoke before a state Senate Judiciary subcommittee last Thursday, during which Giuliani urged the panel’s mostly Republican lawmakers to appoint electors to the Electoral College who would cast Georgia’s 16 electoral votes in Trump’s favor next week.
Representatives from Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office did not attend Thursday’s hearing, citing ongoing litigation. Raffensperger and his deputies have repeatedly sought to debunk claims of machines flipping votes and alleged mail-in ballot fraud spread by Trump and his allies.
Certified election results that have undergone two recounts since mid-November show Trump lost to President-elect Joe Biden in Georgia by 11,779 votes. Trump has called the election “rigged” and pressured Gov. Brian Kemp to overturn the results in Georgia.
Speaking on video after contracting COVID-19, Giuliani hurled accusations of fraud that no court in Georgia has found valid so far and said Atlanta election workers shown in a controversial surveillance video “look like they’re passing out dope, not just ballots.”
“Every single vote should be taken away from Biden,” Giuliani said.
At one point, Giuliani could be heard in the background of Thursday’s hearing telling his legal team to send a video of election activities in Coffee County to right-wing news outlets Newsmax and One America News Network.
Georgia’s election system manager, Gabriel Sterling held a news conference Thursday afternoon to debunk many of the fraud claims made at the House hearing. He said the hearing format worsens doubt in the state’s election integrity since the claims do not face real questioning.
“Giving oxygen to this continued disinformation is leading to a continuing erosion of people’s belief in our elections and our processes,” Sterling said.
Democratic lawmakers condemned Thursday’s hearing, calling it a sham put on by Republicans to stir emotions among Trump’s base of supporters rather than probe any actual election irregularities.
“This is an embarrassing day in Georgia House of Representatives history,” said state Rep. Josh McLaurin, D-Sandy Springs.
The hearing came as lawmakers gear up to propose revisions for Georgia’s absentee voter ID laws when the General Assembly meets for the 2021 legislative session starting next month.
The Georgia Senate Republican Caucus has already called for requiring photo identification to vote by mail, banning absentee-ballot drop boxes and eliminating the ability of Georgians to request a mail-in ballot without a reason.
“I think it’s a very simple,” said state Rep. Rick Williams, R-Milledgeville. “We need a verification of the signatures in each one of the elections offices across the state.”