Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and the state’s elections chief were ordered by a federal judge to explain their opposition to allowing inspections of voting machines that President Donald Trump has claimed “switched” votes in favor of Joe Biden.
U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten in Atlanta gave Kemp and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger until Wednesday to file a brief in response to inspection demands by former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell, who filed a suit alleging Dominion Voting Systems Inc. machines are part of a vast election-rigging scheme involving Democratic-run cities, billionaire George Soros and “communist money” from Venezuela and Cuba.
Powell, who seeks to decertify Biden’s victory in the state, has produced scant evidence. Dominion has denied all claims made by Powell and other Trump allies concerning the election.
Biden’s victory in Georgia was certified on Nov. 20 following a hand recount confirmed the results. A machine recount requested by Trump’s campaign is underway.
On Monday, the state Democratic Party sought to intervene in the case, filing a proposed motion to dismiss the suit. The party accused Powell of trying to overturn the will of voters and pushing “debunked conspiracy theories, wild speculation, and unsupported allegations of procedural improprieties recycled from other unsuccessful lawsuits.”
Kemp and Raffensperger, both Republicans, said at a Sunday hearing that the inspections sought in Cobb, Gwinnett, and Cherokee counties posed serious security and intellectual property risks, according to the Sunday ruling. The judge, a George W. Bush appointee, asked the state officials to explain their assertions and also ordered the state not to alter or erase any of the data.
Batten set a hearing on the matter for Friday at 10 a.m.
Though Trump has continued to promote it, Powell’s conspiracy theory was widely panned, including on the right, after she detailed it during a Nov. 19 press conference alongside Rudy Giuliani. Conservative commentators Tucker Carlson and Rush Limbaugh have criticized Powell for failing to back up her wild claims, and the Trump campaign last week cut ties with her.
The case is Pearson v. Kemp, 20-cv-04809, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia (Atlanta).