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Justice Department charges Texas man with threatening Georgia election officials

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Justice Department charges Texas man with threatening Georgia election officials

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WASHINGTON — The Justice Department on Friday charged a Texas man with publicly calling for the assassination of Georgia election officials the day before the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

The case is the first brought by the department’s Election Threats Task Force, an agency created last summer to deal with threats to elections and election workers. Federal prosecutors have charged the man, Chad Christopher Stark, 54, of Leander, Texas, with calling on the ‘Georgia Patriots’ to ‘put a bullet’ in a Georgia election official the indictment calls official A.

Mr. Stark, according to the three-page indictment, made the warning in a post on Craigslist, the online message board, while then-President Donald J. Trump and his allies exerted a public pressure on Brad Raffensperger, the Georgian Secretary of State. who certified Mr. Trump’s defeat in Georgia to Joseph R. Biden Jr.

“Georgia Patriots, it is time for us to take back our state from these lawless traitors,” Mr. Stark wrote, according to the indictment. “It’s time to invoke our Second Amendment, it’s time to put a bullet in Chinese traitors [Official A]. Then we go down to [Official B] corrupt local and federal judges.

Mr. Stark was charged with one count of interstate threat communication.

The Craigslist posting came at a time of intense political pressure against election officials in battleground states in 2020. Mr. Trump had phoned Mr. Raffensperger and asked him to “find” nearly 12,000 votes for undo Mr. Biden’s victory in Georgia. The next day, a Trump-inspired mob attacked the United States Capitol in an effort to block Congress from certifying Mr Biden as the next president.

An Atlanta district attorney on Thursday asked a judge to convene a special grand jury to help with a criminal investigation into Mr. Trump’s attempts to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results. If the investigation continues, legal experts say the former president’s potential criminal exposure could include charges of racketeering or conspiracy to commit voter fraud.

Mr. Raffensperger did not confirm on Friday whether he was among the election officials targeted.

“I strongly condemn threats against election workers and those who volunteer in elections,” he said in a statement. “It’s the people who make our democracy work.”

In addition to the two Georgian election officials, Mr. Stark’s Craigslist post also threatened a third Georgian official.

“Milita in Georgia, it’s time to shed blood,” he wrote. “We have to visit [Official C] and his family too and put a bullet behind his ears.

An aide to Stacey Abrams, the Democrat from Georgia who is running for governor, said he did not know if Ms Abrams was official C.

Threats against Georgia election officials continued long after the state finished counting and recounting votes in its 2020 presidential contest. right-wingers falsely accused of counting fraudulent votes sued the Gateway Pundit and Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s attorney, for spreading lies about their conduct.

Mr. Raffensperger, a Republican, was heavily blamed by Trump allies for certifying Mr. Biden’s victory. He faces a main challenge this year from Representative Jody Hice of Georgia, who has embraced many of Mr. Trump’s false claims about the election.

Mr Stark could not be reached for comment on Friday and the identity of his lawyer was not known. He is due to appear in federal court in Austin on Friday afternoon to be formally charged. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

Kirsten Noyes contributed to the research.

Justice Department charges Texas man with threatening Georgia election officials

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