Perdue defends Trump over call pressuring Georgia secretary of state

Sen. David PerdueDavid PerdueLoeffler meets with McConnell amid speculation of another Senate run Georgia agriculture commissioner launches Senate campaign against Warnock Georgia Republican secretary of state hits Loeffler as 'weak,' 'fake Trumper' MORE (R-Ga.) on Monday defended President TrumpDonald TrumpRealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Jake Ellzey defeats Trump-backed candidate in Texas House runoff DOJ declines to back Mo Brooks's defense against Swalwell's Capitol riot lawsuit MORE’s call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) during which the president pressured the state official to find votes to overturn his election loss.

“I didn’t hear anything in that tape that the president hasn’t already said for weeks now since the November election calling for some sort of investigation, some sort of resolution to the improprieties and the irregularities that we now see happened in November here in Georgia,” Perdue, one of two Republican senators facing runoff elections in Georgia on Tuesday, said on Fox News when asked about the call.

When pressed about other Republican pushback to the call, a recording of which was published by The Washington Post on Sunday, Perdue suggested the president was rightly raising concerns about the state’s election.

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“What he is saying, a lot of people in Georgia and 75 million Americans, I think, align with him right now that something untoward happened here in Georgia and we have not gotten to the bottom of it,” Perdue said.

He also called the leak of the call “disgusting.”

Trump can be heard on the call pressuring Raffensperger to “find” votes that would overturn his election loss. Trump also seems to threaten Raffensperger, whom he has repeatedly attacked on social media, with vague consequences if the Georgia official does not act in his favor.

“The ballots are corrupt,” Trump said on the call. “And you are going to find that they are — which is totally illegal — it is more illegal for you than it is for them because, you know, what they did and you’re not reporting it. That’s a criminal, that’s a criminal offense. And you can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you and ... your lawyer.”

Georgia officials have said there is no evidence of widespread fraud in the state’s election. President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenRealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Iowa governor suggests immigrants partially to blame for rising COVID-19 cases Biden officials pledge to confront cybersecurity challenges head-on MORE’s win has been affirmed by three state audits and certified twice.

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The phone call has prompted heavy criticism, including from some Republicans. Rep. Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerMcCarthy pulls GOP picks off House economic panel GOP up in arms over Cheney, Kinzinger Five takeaways from a bracing day of Jan. 6 testimony MORE (R-Ill.) called it “absolutely appalling.” Vice President-elect Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisWant to improve vaccine rates? Ask for this endorsement Biden celebrates anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act Will Pence primary Trump — and win? MORE, speaking at a rally in Georgia on Sunday, described it as a “bald-faced, bold abuse of power.”

Perdue’s defense of Trump came hours before the president is scheduled to travel to the Peach State to rally for the two vulnerable Republican senators on the eve of the runoffs. Perdue and Sen. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerSchumer, Tim Scott lead as Senate fundraising pace heats up Trump says Herschel Walker will enter Georgia Senate race WNBA announces zero COVID-19 positive tests, 99 percent fully vaccinated MORE (R) are facing challenges from Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, respectively.

Republicans view Trump’s presence in Georgia as necessary to turn out the base, but many worry that his unproven accusations about widespread election fraud and his attacks on Georgia Republicans will ultimately hurt the party in the runoffs. Trump has targeted Raffensperger as well as Georgia Gov. Brian KempBrian KempSavannah becomes first major city in Georgia to reinstate masks On The Money: Senate braces for nasty debt ceiling fight | Democrats pushing for changes to bipartisan deal | Housing prices hit new high in June Businesses contribute thousands to backers of Georgia election law after condemning it MORE (R) over their refusal to back his fraud claims.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyHouse to resume mask mandate after new CDC guidance McCarthy pulls GOP picks off House economic panel GOP up in arms over Cheney, Kinzinger MORE (R-Calif.), a staunch ally of the president, also similarly downplayed controversy surrounding Trump’s call to Raffensperger during an appearance early Monday on “Fox & Friends.”

“The president has always been concerned about the integrity of the election and the president believes there are things that happened in Georgia and he wants to see the accountability for it,” McCarthy said.