Why Georgia Was Always a Special Case

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There seems to be a consensus that the coup indictments out of Georgia are unexpectedly strong. I don’t know why it’s “unexpected” or exceeded expectations. The Fulton County DA’s office has been working on this for a very long time and they’ve always seemed in earnest about it, even when it was unclear whether federal investigators were focused on the people at the top of the conspiracy. But it’s a reminder that Georgia was always unique in the broader story of Trump’s failed coup. It’s not simply that there was a more aggressive local prosecutor on hand.

In every key swing state Republicans held one or both (often highly gerrymandered) state houses. But it was only Georgia that was under unified Republican control. Democrats held the governorships in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan — a critical outcome of the 2018 midterm election. In many cases a Democrat was the secretary of state or held whichever office or appointee was charged with administering elections. Arizona was in close to unified Republican control. But Katie Hobbs, now the state’s governor, was secretary of state, the officer which administers the state’s elections.

This doesn’t mean there wasn’t lots of coup-advancing criminal conduct in those states. There was. Indeed, just yesterday Gov. Hobbs said the state’s attorney general should join Georgia in bringing criminal charges. But only in Georgia were the key players all Republicans, all at least nominal Trump supporters and all beholden to Trump to remain in office. Or so it seemed.

That’s why Georgia was always unique, even though corruptly assigning the state’s electoral votes to Donald Trump, on its own, wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the election. There were officeholders beholden to him he could threaten and intimidate. Sure, he could call Secretary of State Hobbs or Michigan’s Jocelyn Benson and demand they find votes for him. But why? They would have laughed in his face. He had no pull over them.

Georgia was always going to be a more extensive case, with more elaborate criminality because there were simply more crimes to commit, more officeholders and election officials he could try to bully, intimidate and frighten.

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