‘Going to jail soon’: Ominous threat
US President Donald Trump has shared a post online saying two Republican political leaders in Georgia who resisted his efforts to overturn the election result "will soon be going to jail".
The officials in question are Georgia's Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, both of whom supported Mr Trump's re-election, but rejected his claims about widespread voter fraud.
The electoral college vote formalised Mr Biden's win over Mr Trump, and prompted senior Republicans in Washington D.C. to acknowledge him as the president-elect.
"The electoral college has spoken," Senate Leader Mitch McConnell said today.
"Our country has, officially, a president-elect and vice president-elect. I want to congratulate president-elect Joe Biden."
However, Mr Trump is still not conceding. This morning he posted another barrage of baseless claims about the election on Twitter, saying he'd actually won a "landslide victory" and fraud had reduced it to "a tight loss".
I am obliged to note that the President and his allies have yet to prove any of his allegations in court, where they have lost more than 50 cases.
Judges have repeatedly berated Mr Trump's lawyers for providing no credible evidence of fraud.
Among his tweets today, Mr Trump shared a post from lawyer Lin Wood, who is not affiliated with the President's legal team, but has launched several unsuccessful lawsuits of his own since the election, seeking to overturn the result.
"President Trump is a genuinely good man. He does not really like to fire people. I bet he dislikes putting people in jail, especially 'Republicans'," Mr Wood wrote.
"He gave Brian Kemp and Brad Raffensperger every chance to get it right. They refused. They will soon be going to jail."
He did not specify what, exactly, he thought they would going to jail for. Contradicting the President is not a crime in the United States.
The post also included photoshopped images of Mr Kemp and Mr Raffensperger wearing face masks adorned with the Chinese flag.
I assume that has something to do with the theory, previously promoted by Wood's fellow lawyer Sidney Powell, that Mr Kemp and Mr Raffensperger got paid off using money from communist regimes overseas to facilitate fraud.
Neither Mr Wood nor Ms Powell have ever provided a shred of proof to support that theory, which is outlandish even by the standards of the last six weeks.
Mr Wood's record in court since the election is unlikely to inspire much fear in Mr Kemp or Mr Raffensperger. He has suffered a string of unambiguous defeats.
On November 19, a federal judge appointed by Mr Trump threw out Mr Wood's attempt to sue Mr Raffensperger over his handling of the election in Georgia, finding "no basis in fact or in law" to support his case.
Mr Wood appealed that decision. On December 5, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals slapped him down again, lamenting his "basic misunderstanding" of relevant legal principles.
He also filed a motion in the US Supreme Court this month, piggybacking off the lawsuit from Texas Attorney-General Ken Paxton. The motion was littered with errors (such as Mr Wood misspelling his own name), and got rejected along with Mr Paxton's broader case.
What I'm saying here is that Mr Wood's results have yet to live up to his rhetoric, so maybe take his prediction that Mr Kemp and Mr Raffensperger will end up in prison with a few healthy dollops of salt.
There's one more factor to note here. Mr Wood has spent recent weeks telling Republican voters to boycott two upcoming special Senate elections in Georgia, in which incumbent Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are defending their seats.
The runoff elections, which are necessary because no candidate received a majority of the vote on November 3, will decide which party controls the US Senate for the next two years. The Democrats need to win both races.
Mr Wood argues Republican voters should refuse to support Mr Perdue or Ms Loeffler, to punish their party for failing to sufficiently support the President's fraud claims. Republican officials worry some of them might listen to him, handing control of the Senate to the Democrats.
They probably won't be happy about Mr Trump retweeting the guy.
Trump retweets Lin Wood, a conspiracy theorist who has basically spent the last several weeks encouraging Georgia Republicans to boycott the Senate runoffs. pic.twitter.com/3CsMmCcfk8— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) December 15, 2020
Speaking of whom, let's get back to Mr Trump.
Georgia has been a frequent focus of the President's fraud claims. In particular, he has presented as fact a debunked conspiracy theory that the electronic voting system used in some of the state's counties changed votes cast for him to support Mr Biden instead.
If that theory were true, Georgia's full recount - which was conducted by hand - would have yielded a dramatically different result to the one reported by the electronic system. It did not.
So the President is retweeting that nut Lin Wood who is calling for Brian Kemp to go to jail in Georgia. This really isn't going to help the GOP in their effort to save the Senate and preserve the President's legacy.— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) December 15, 2020
Georgia has since counted its votes a third time, again confirming Mr Biden's win.
Mr Trump has also repeatedly slammed Mr Kemp and Mr Raffensperger for, in his telling, refusing to verify the signatures voters used to cast mail-in ballots.
Under Georgia's electoral laws, any voter who wants a mail-in ballot has to request one. When they submit an application, their signature is checked against the state's voter registration records.
Then, when they return the ballot to be counted, they are required to sign the envelope in which it's enclosed. That signature is also verified.
The ballot is then separated from the envelope to protect the voter's privacy. This step is required by Georgia's state constitution, which says elections "shall be by secret ballot".
So, to sum up, no mail-in ballot is counted in Georgia without the voter's signature being verified. And it is no longer possible to reunite the envelopes, which were signed, with the ballots themselves, which were not.
Neither Mr Kemp nor Mr Raffensperger has the power to change that.
No big deal, just the President retweeting a lunatic call to imprison the officials who confirmed he lost Georgia pic.twitter.com/TEU22GX9Sz— Brendan Nyhan (@BrendanNyhan) December 15, 2020
Mr Raffensperger, as the official in charge of Georgia's elections, does have the power to order an audit of the signature verification process.
(Mr Kemp does not - as Governor, he can't interfere - though that hasn't stopped Mr Trump from criticising him for failing to issue such an order).
There has actually been some tension between the two Georgia Republicans here. For weeks, Mr Kemp has pushed Mr Raffensperger to conduct a "sample audit" as a sort of compromise with the President, and the Secretary of State has resisted.
As a guy who ran for Congress, I can tell you this is EXACTLY what you want your party doing at the start of early voting. Full scale civil war. https://t.co/7qWUX8Rx7v— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) December 15, 2020
Yesterday, he finally relented. Mr Raffensperger announced an audit of the signatures on mail-in ballot envelopes in Cobb County, which encompasses the suburbs of Atlanta.
"Now that the signature matching has been attacked again and again with no evidence, I feel we need to take steps to restore confidence in our elections," he said.
"The Trump campaign claimed that Cobb County did not properly conduct signature match in June," added Mr Raffensperger's deputy, Jordan Fuchs.
"After the countywide audit, we will look at the entire state. We will look at the entire election to make sure signature match was executed properly."
"I am glad Secretary Raffensperger has finally taken this necessary step to begin restoring confidence in our state's election processes," Mr Kemp said in response to the move.
"I have called for a signature audit repeatedly since the November 3 election. As Georgians head back to the polls for the January 5 runoffs, it is absolutely vital for every vote cast to be legal and for only legal votes to be counted."
Originally published as 'Going to jail soon': Ominous threat