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Georgia elections official: Trump phone call ‘not normal’ | Donald Trump News

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A day after a recording surfaced in which President Donald Trump was heard pressuring Georgia’s secretary of state to “find” enough votes to give him the victory over President-elect Joe Biden there, a top elections official called that conversation “not normal”.

“It’s not normal, out of place, nobody I know who is president would do something like that to a secretary of state,” Georgia voting systems implementation manager Gabriel Sterling, a Republican, told reporters Monday.

Sterling’s comments came after spending 25 minutes debunking point-by-point all of the claims Trump made during his Saturday telephone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, claims that Trump argued show he “won very substantially in Georgia”.

Raffensperger, a Republican, responded to the president during the call, which was leaked to the Washington Post on Sunday, saying, “We don’t agree that you have won,” and offered his own fact-check before being interrupted by Trump.

Sterling said he was compelled to address the president’s claims in detail because he continues to hear from voters who believe the “vote was stolen” and, on the eve of the state’s two US Senate runoff elections, he wanted to urge voters to vote, regardless of whether they believe the president or the state’s fact-check.

“It is absolutely important,” Sterling said about voters heading to the polls Tuesday, whose votes will determine which party has a majority in the US Senate. “The reason I’m having to stand here today is because there are people in positions of authority and respect who have said their votes didn’t count. And it’s not true.”

“We want to make sure people understand their votes count. Every person, every voice matters,” Sterling said.

Trump will campaign in Georgia Monday night on behalf of the Republican Senate candidates. However, some Republicans are worried that the president will spend more time on his continued criticism of the state’s voting system and that, combined with some Trump supporters’ calls to boycott the election, will cause Republican voters to stay home.

Sterling’s efforts to change voters’ minds may be easier said than done.

Vice President Mike Pence campaigned in Milner, Georgia on Monday, and at one point during his remarks, several in the crowd began chanting, “stop the steal” –  a phrase Trump and his backers have been using as part of their efforts to overturn the election results.

Trump call fallout

A few congressional Republicans have reacted to the leaked recording, including Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey, who called it “a new low”, and Representative Liz Cheney, the number three Republican in the House, who said it was “deeply troubling.

Meanwhile, Democrats in Georgia and in Washington are wasting no time looking into the legal ramifications of Trump’s conversation.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, a Democrat, called Trump’s call “disturbing” and said she “will enforce the law without fear or favor”, if his conversation is alleged to be a violation of law.

Raffensperger said during an interview with US broadcaster ABC News on Monday that Willis’ office would be an “appropriate venue” for an investigation.

Also, two US House Democrats have asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation to “open an immediate criminal investigation” into the call.

Representatives Kathleen Rice and Ted Lieu argued in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray that “The evidence of election fraud by Mr. Trump is now in broad daylight.”

They are alleging that Trump violated federal election laws by asking Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes”, the exact amount plus one needed for Trump to win the state, and also suggesting “there’s nothing wrong with saying, you know, um, that you’ve re-calculated.”

For their part, Democratic congressional leadership is not immediately rushing down the investigation path.

Representative Hakeem Jeffries, who as caucus chairman is the fifth-ranking Democratic leader in the US House, said Monday he had not read the transcript of the call and insisted “We’re not looking backward, we’re looking forward to the inauguration of Joe Biden.”



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Pirates kill 1, kidnap 15 crew on Turkish ship off West Africa | Asia News

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Vessel was sailing from Lagos to Cape Town when it was attacked northwest of Sao Tome and Principe.

Pirates attacked a Turkish cargo ship off the West African coast, kidnapping 15 sailors and killing one, and Turkey’s military was planning a rescue operation on Sunday.

Turkey’s Maritime Directorate said the crew initially locked themselves in a safe area but the pirates forced entry after six hours. During the struggle, one crew member on board the M/V Mozart died.

Turkish media identified the victim as engineer Farman Ismayilov of Azerbaijan, the only non-Turkish crew member.

After taking most of the crew on Saturday, the pirates left the ship in the Gulf of Guinea with three sailors on board, state-run Anadolu news agency said. The vessel is currently heading to Gabon’s Port-Gentil.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke twice to the senior officer remaining on the ship, Furkan Yaren, the Turkish presidency said in a tweet. It added Erdogan issued orders for the recovery of the kidnapped crew.

Yaren was cited as saying the pirates beat crew members, and left him with an injured leg while another still aboard the ship had shrapnel wounds.

“The owners and operators of the M/V Mozart, which was hijacked at gunpoint in the Gulf of Guinea, have regretfully confirmed that one of its crew has been killed and others abducted,” Istanbul-based Boden Maritime said in a statement.

Most dangerous sea

The Liberian-flagged Mozart was sailing from Lagos, Nigeria, to Cape Town in South Africa when it was attacked 100 nautical miles (185km) northwest of the island nation of Sao Tome and Principe on Saturday morning.

Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu spoke to his Azerbaijani counterpart to offer condolences and said the body of the crew member would be transferred when the Mozart reaches port.

According to reports, the pirates disabled most of the ship’s systems, leaving only the navigation system for the remaining crew to find their way to port.

The Gulf of Guinea – off the coasts of Nigeria, Guinea, Togo, Benin and Cameroon – is the most dangerous sea in the world because of piracy, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

In July 2019, 10 Turkish seamen were kidnapped off the coast of Nigeria. They were released less than a month later.



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