President Donald Trump on Saturday attempted to insert U.S. District Judge Leslie A. Gardner, the sister of Georgia voting rights activist Stacey Abrams, as part of his latest desperate effort to take hold of the state’s election process.
Trump over the past week has baselessly accused the siblings of Abrams and Georgia GOP secretary of state Brad Raffensperger of somehow swaying the state’s election process in favor of President-elect Joe Biden and the Democratic Senate runoff candidates. Trump on Saturday blamed Judge Gardner, Abrams’ sister, of helping to prevent signature verification in several Georgia counties and for the court system’s continued refusal to hear the unfounded “large scale voter fraud” claims being presented by his own legal team.
Trump tweeted Tuesday that Raffensperger’s brother “works for China” in his latest name-calling attempt to discredit the Republican election official. And on Saturday, the president went after Gardner, making unfounded claims she is protecting Georgia’s “complete disaster” of an election process. Fact-checks of Trump‘s claim found Raffensperger does have a brother, just not one who works for a Chinese tech firm and he is not named Ron, according to family records.
“Just a small portion of these votes give US a big and conclusive win in Georgia. Have they illegally destroyed ballots in Fulton County? After many weeks, we don’t yet even have a judge to hear this large scale voter fraud case. The only judge seems to be Stacey’s sister!” the president tweeted Saturday.
Gardner, a U.S. district judge for the Middle District of Georgia, on Thursday declined a motion from the Muscogee County Board of Elections which called for her to recuse herself from a voting rights case that seeks to block or disqualify thousands of Georgia voters. Gardner stated that recusing herself would be a dereliction of duty and would violate her oath as a federal judge, but Trump—and Raffensperger—have suggested Abrams may have “funded” a political action committee tied to the case.
“One can only assume that the argument is something to the effect that if my sister is actively engaged in a cause, I cannot be impartial. This argument is mere speculation, unsupported by any facts that would support a finding of partiality,” Gardner told The Augusta Chronicle.
National Democratic Party attorney Marc Elias touted Gardner’s judicial action as a “blow to GOP voter suppression” tactics. Even though Gardner’s only offense appears to have been her request to see actual evidence of voter fraud, Trump sycophants immediately latched onto the sibling connection as they try anything to take control of Georgia’s elections.
“Judge blocks voter purge in 2 Georgia counties. Don’t believe these things are rigged? THE JUDGE IS STACY ABRAMS’ SISTER!!! WTF,” Donald Trump Jr. tweeted Tuesday. But the case he highlighted showed that GOP election officials were attempting to remove more than 4,000 names from Muscogee County voting rolls just days before the January 5 runoff. In response, Gardner reversed the decision.
Gardner upheld a motion for an injunction last week which requires Muscogee County to notify all voters whose eligibility has been challenged because their names appear in the National Change of Address database run by the U.S. Postal Service. A progressive PAC called Majority Forward helped spearhead the lawsuit that blocked the effort to disqualify voters just days ahead of the U.S. Senate runoffs.
Gardner simply requested that Muscogee present any evidence that the names being used in the database don’t match up and are grounds for disqualifying their vote.
“Why haven’t they done signature verification in Fulton County, Georgia. Why haven’t they deducted all of the dead people who ‘voted’, illegals who voted, non Georgia residents who voted, and tens of thousands of others who voted illegally, from the final vote tally?” Trump continued tweeting Saturday.
Gardner made headlines in 2018 when it came to light that she was engaged, and now married, to Jimmie Gardner, a man who was incarcerated for 26 years for a rape and robbery he did not commit.
Newsweek reached out to Gardner’s office and the White House for additional remarks Saturday.