Trump’s Georgia failures highlight GOP’s Jan. 6 dilemma: The Note

Georgia is the focus of both a runoff and the next Jan. 6 hearing on Tuesday.

June 21, 2022, 6:02 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

Tuesday is runoff day for voters in Georgia -- though notably not for the two highest-profile races where former President Donald Trump tried and failed to defeat incumbents.

Tuesday will also showcase another time where Trump tried but failed to exert his influence among Georgia Republicans. The next hearing of the House Jan. 6 committee will examine Trump's efforts to pressure lawmakers to overturn the 2020 presidential election -- including the infamous phone call where he implored Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to help "find" the votes he needed to win the state.

As the recording of the Jan. 2, 2021, call made clear, Trump warned Raffensperger that he appeared to be committing a "criminal offense" by not reporting potential election irregularities. But authorities in Georgia have been working to establish whether it was Trump and others around him who may have committed a crime.

PHOTO: In this May 24, 2022, file photo, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger gives an afternoon update on the Georgia Primary Election at the election command center in Atlanta.
In this May 24, 2022, file photo, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger gives an afternoon update on the Georgia Primary Election at the election command center in Atlanta.
Alyssa Pointer/Reuters, FILE

Jan. 6 committee members say Tuesday will also shed light on Trump's efforts to get states to name alternate slates of electors -- which would have been key to securing the presidency for Trump after the Jan. 6 attack, if then-Vice President Mike Pence went along with Trump's plan.

Trump has offered a prebuttal to the committee, with a series of statements where he said he always "felt" the election was stolen from him -- suggesting his efforts were within the bounds of appropriate conduct. He also said his call with Raffensperger was "absolutely PERFECT and appropriate"; Raffensperger is expected to disagree with that assessment when he testifies Tuesday.

Raffensperger and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp both survived primary challengers from election-denying, Trump-endorsed candidates last month. But the "big lie" retains a strong appeal in GOP primaries, as other races Tuesday in Georgia, Alabama and Virginia are likely to make clear.

Trump's efforts to overturn the election he lost have long mattered politically. The question now for authorities in Georgia and Washington is whether they should matter legally as well.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

Tuesday marks a deadline for Senate negotiators to deliver the details of proposed gun reforms.

The ongoing, sensitive deliberations could only be complicated by external pressures. The fraught nature of engaging in these talks as a conservative was on full display in Texas last week when Sen. John Cornyn, who is the lead Republican negotiator, was both audibly booed and formally rebuked by his party in his home state.

"We reject the so called 'bipartisan gun agreement,' and we rebuke Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas), 1600 Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lindsey Graham 1601 (R-S.C.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.)," the Texas Republican Party said in a resolution adopted at its convention on Saturday.

PHOTO: Senator John Cornyn listens during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., on June 15, 2022.
Senator John Cornyn listens during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., on June 15, 2022.
Tom Brenner/Bloomberg via Getty Images

While the pending gun package won't be all that Democrats want, which the White House acknowledges, administration officials view it as an opportunity to make the most significant legislative move on guns since the federal assault weapons ban in 1994. Additional reforms can be taken up later, an administration official told ABC News.

Biden himself expressed optimism Monday. He told reporters he was confident that "there's a serious, serious negotiation that's getting close to becoming fruition."

The goal, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, is to have a deal done before the chamber's two-week July 4 recess.

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

The runoff in Alabama's Republican Senate primary is set to conclude Tuesday with unique positioning for both candidates -- each of whom has been able to claim having former President Trump's endorsement at some point in the cycle.

Rep. Mo Brooks spoke at the rally preceding the Jan. 6 insurrection on the Capitol and remains one of the most vocal election deniers in Congress. He was also among the first endorsements Trump issued post-presidency. But months before the May 24 primary election, the six-term congressman lost that endorsement when Trump accused Brooks of going "woke" for making comments that voters should move past 2020 election fallout and that there was no way to have legally reinstated Trump.

In rescinding his endorsement, Trump also took a Trump-like swipe at Brooks' standing in the polls.

PHOTO: Mo Brooks speaks to supporters at the Huntsville Botanical Gardens, May 24, 2022, in Huntsville, Ala.
Mo Brooks speaks to supporters at the Huntsville Botanical Gardens, May 24, 2022, in Huntsville, Ala.
Vasha Hunt/AP, FILE

The deeply red political landscape of Alabama made Trump's change of heart perilous for Brooks' candidacy, leading him to make a public appeal for Trump to re-endorse him earlier this month. In a tweet outlining his case, Brooks laid blame squarely on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, saying, "I had President Trump's endorsement at the beginning, but then Mitch McConnell spent millions on TV attacking me. At that time, it looked like our campaign was going nowhere, and sadly, President Trump pulled his endorsement."

Trump ignored that request and pivoted to endorsing Brooks' chief opponent, Katie Britt, a few days later. The first half of his new endorsement fixated on blasting Brooks again before praising Britt as "a fearless America First Warrior" and distancing her from political allegiance to McConnell.

Britt, a former chief of staff to retiring Sen. Richard Shelby, led Brooks by double digits in the primary election, earning 45% of the vote to his 29%. Tuesday's winner will face off with Democratic candidate Will Boyd, a reverend and previous Senate hopeful, in November.

NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight

8. That's the number of key races to watch in Alabama, Georgia and Virginia on Tuesday night. And as FiveThirtyEight's Nathaniel Rakich writes, Tuesday will once again be a test for Trump, especially in Georgia where two of his endorsees face close House runoffs. Remember that in both Georgia and Alabama, it's runoff elections; only Virginia is holding its regularly scheduled primary. Read more from Nathaniel on the key races to watch on Tuesday and be sure to follow along at FiveThirtyEight's live blog.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Start Here begins Tuesday morning with a look at what's causing mass flight cancellations and delays this summer. ABC's Gio Benitez leads us off. Then, ABC's James Longman reports from Ukraine as Russia makes gains in the eastern part of the country. And, ABC's Ginger Zee takes us to Louisiana for an in-depth look at "cancer alley." http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol holds a hearing at 1 p.m ET. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Georgia Secretary of State Chief Operating Officer Gabriel Sterling, Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers and former Georgia election worker Wandrea ArShaye "Shaye" Moss will testify.
  • Primary elections will be held in Virginia (polls close at 7 p.m. ET) and the District of Columbia (polls close at 8 p.m. ET) with primary runoffs in Alabama (polls closet at 8 p.m. ET) and Georgia (polls close at 7 p.m. ET).
  • Biden is scheduled to speak about recently authorized COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5.
  • The Supreme Court will release the next set of its remaining opinions this term beginning at 10 a.m. ET, with at least five opinions expected in cases that could touch on gun ownership, abortion access, immigration and more.

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The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back Wednesday for the latest.

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