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“I don’t feel safe anywhere”: Election officials report threats

WASHINGTON – A former Georgia poll worker in a gripping testimony on Tuesday the House Committee of January 6th about the onslaught of threats she and her family received after former President Trump and his allies falsely accused her and her mother of pulling fraudulent ballots out of a suitcase.

Wandrea “Shaye” Moss told lawmakers her life was turned upside down when Trump and his allies leaked November 2020 surveillance footage to accuse her and her mother, Ruby Freeman, of voter fraud, allegations that were quickly debunked.

Moss, who is black, said she received messages “wishing me dead. Tell me I’ll be in prison with my mother. And saying things like, ‘Be glad it’s 2020 and not 1920.’”

“A lot of them were racist,” Moss said. “A lot of them were just plain hateful.”

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The committee also played testimony from Freeman, who sat behind Moss in the hearing room, showed support for her daughter and at one point handed over a box of tissues as lawmakers heard of her harrowing ordeal.

“I don’t feel safe anywhere. Nowhere,” Freeman told the committee in the recorded video. “You know how it feels when the President of the United States takes aim at you? The President of the United States should represent every American, not target one.”

“But he targeted me,” she added.

The mother and daughter’s emotional testimony was just the January 6 panel’s latest attempt to show how Lies by Trump and his allies about a stolen election morphed into real violence and intimidation against the stewards of American democracy: state and local election officials and workers.

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The spate of threats against the two county workers came after Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani played surveillance footage of them counting ballots in a Georgia Senate committee hearing on Dec. 10, 2021. Giuliani said the footage showed the women “surreptitiously passing around USB ports as if they were vials of heroin or cocaine.” What they actually passed, Moss told the committee, was a gingermint.

Allies of Giuliani and Trump kept repeating the false conspiracy theory that Moss and Freeman were packing ballots in suitcases along with other poll workers in key battleground states. The claim was refuted by several Georgia elections officials, who investigated and found that the footage showed standard voting bins used in Fulton County.

But it was too late. Conservative networks like One America News Network picked up on the false claim and, with the help of Trump himself, it began to spread. Moss and Freeman eventually filed a defamation lawsuit against the network and Giuliani last December. The case against OAN has since been dismissed with a settlement.

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Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who chaired Thursday’s hearing, noted that Trump mentioned Freeman’s name 18 times in a call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Trump once called Freeman a “professional election fraudster and crook.”

“It has had a huge impact on my life. In every way. All because of lies. Everything for me to do my job. Same thing I’ve always done,” said Moss, who has been a campaign worker for 10 years.

In the face of so many threats, the FBI asked Freeman to leave her home before January 6 for security reasons. She testified that she was unable to return for two months and felt homeless.

“The point is this: Donald Trump didn’t bother with the threat of violence,” said Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., the committee’s vice chair, in her opening remarks Tuesday. “He didn’t judge her, he didn’t try to stop her; he continued with his false accusations anyway.”

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Raffensperger, Georgia’s top election official, and his deputy Gabe Sterling also testified about the relentless attacks they and their colleagues faced Trump falsely claimed that there was widespread voter fraud in Georgia.

Raffensperger and his wife were victims of organized harassment — commonly known as doxxing. His wife, he said, received “disgusting” text messages with sexual content, and supporters of the president’s campaign claims broke into the home of Raffensperger’s daughter-in-law, where she was staying with her children.

Sterling recalled the December 2020 moment that urged him to speak out. It was a tweet about an employee of Dominion voting machines — the focus of other Trump-sponsored voter fraud conspiracies — saying, “You have committed treason. May God have mercy on your soul.” It included a slow spinning GIF of a noose.

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“And for want of a better word, I lost it,” Sterling told the committee. “I just got angry.”

That day Sterling gave one impassioned plea at a press conference asking Trump to condemn the threats against campaign workers. “This has to stop,” he said.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2022/06/21/nowhere-i-feel-safe-election-officials-recount-threats/ “I don’t feel safe anywhere”: Election officials report threats

Sarah Y. Kim

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