U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter tried to distance himself Thursday from what he described as an attack by a “few” on the U.S. Capitol and insisted that the violence was divorced from his own objections to the 2020 election, despite both being based on spurious allegations of widespread fraud.
A mob of thousands of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol after the outgoing president exhorted them to action because of his unfounded and disproven claims that the election was stolen from him.
The Pooler Republican described the events Wednesday — which many in his Republican Party have condemned as an insurrection — as the “saddest day of his life.”
“When the capitol was stormed, when the House chamber was stormed by a few who got out of control and who should be held accountable,” he said. “The people should be prosecuted. What they did, I condemn.
“But, these are two separate incidents,” he said, referring to the pro-forma congressional hearing meant to ratify the presidential election results before being interrupted by the mob.
Carter joined a bloc of Congressional Republicans seeking to use the Congressional stage to amply their loyalty to the president’s messaging despite warnings by national security officials and leading business executives of the threat such grandstanding would have to American democracy.
In a two-minute video posted to social media Thursday, the Coastal Georgian lawmaker said his objection in Congress to the certification of the transfer of presidential power was not about his belief in the outcome of the presidential election on Nov. 3, but about how Georgia conducted the vote.
Carter’s office has not responded to questions from The Current, first sent Monday and then Wednesday, about the Pooler businessman’s opinions on Trump’s phone call over the weekend to fellow Georgia Republican Brad Raffensperger, the head of Georgia’s elections who the president asked to “find” enough votes to overturn the Georgia election results in his favor, and about his objections to the Congressional procedure.
Carter’s video statement came as a growing wave of Republican and Democratic leaders condemned President Trump for allegedly inciting his supporters at a rally before the Congressional hearing began. Moving from the White House to Capitol Hill, the mob invaded the legislature and threatened lawmakers in a quixotic attempt to overturn the will of the American people who voted Trump out of office.
Carter has aligned himself with a group of Georgia Congressional leaders from the so-called Freedom Caucus, a faction of Republicans who believe that electoral malfeasance was the reason why Georgians voted for Joe Biden as president, instead of Trump. They have supported Trump’s campaign of misinformation and conspiracy theories about alleged fraud that have angered his base and undermined trust in Georgia’s electoral system despite a dozen judicial rulings in Georgia as well as data provided by the Republican-led Secretary of State’s office confirming no fraud exists.
Carter issued a statement early Wednesday saying he would join the objectors. By nightfall, when law enforcement regained control of Congress and lawmakers resumed their debate, he was among only a handful of Georgians and Republicans who kept on their controversial course.
The civil unrest that killed four people caused Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler to end her support for the faction’s political brinkmanship. She said she would support their position Monday in a campaign rally with Trump.
The senior member of Georgia’s Republican House delegation, Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton, was one of a dozen lawmakers who went against Carter’s stance and sent a letter questioning the logic of the move and saying that Congress had no role in state elections.
On Thursday Carter described his rationale.
“Let me tell you why I objected,” he said in the video posted to his official Twitter account. “I’m not questioning the results of the elections. I’m questioning the process.”
“Our constitution is quite clear. It is the responsibility of the General Assembly to set the election process. But in the state of Georgia the Secretary of State last March, in 2020, entered into a settlement agreement with the Democrats. And he didn’t get the approval from the general assembly.
“Let our elected officials fulfill their responsibility. Let them be the one to set the election process, not the executive branch and not the judicial branch.”
Carter did not offer any explanation for what role Congress has in setting state policy or why his concerns led him to officially question the outcome of the election. He offered no evidence of any issues related to the election’s outcome in Georgia.
Carter has shifted his position since November about the integrity of Georgia’s election system run by the Secretary of State Raffensperger, a Republican who, despite what Carter’s statement implies, is in fact an elected official.
In the run-up to Election Day, Carter told The Current:
“Voting is one of our most sacred rights as Americans. And we should all exercise that right,” Carter said. “I do believe that in the state of Georgia we can trust the process. States are responsible for organizing and managing elections and our state has done a good job in running elections.”
Biden won a surprise victory over Trump, the first time the state has chosen a Democratic president since 1992. As well, on Tuesday, Georgians for the first time in two decades elected two Democratic senators with challengers Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff beating Republicans Loeffler and senior Sen. David Perdue.