Politico

Flynn, Grenell on opposing GOP sides of Georgia Senate race


Two key figures in President Donald Trump’s attacks on the 2016-era Russia investigation endorsed dueling Republican candidates in one of Georgia’s hotly contested Senate races.

Trump’s former acting intelligence chief Richard Grenell on Tuesday endorsed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), who was appointed to her seat earlier this year after Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) retired. Just hours earlier, Michael Flynn, the president’s former national security adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in 2017, had endorsed Loeffler’s challenger, Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.).

The race, which has grown contentious in recent months, has essentially turned into a battle of who supports Trump the most. While the president has not endorsed a candidate in the race, he has spoken glowingly about both of them.

Senate Republicans’ campaign arm is backing Loeffler, reinforcing its policy of supporting GOP incumbents; Trump’s allies in the House are largely backing Collins.

Loeffler has been in office for less than a year and has been relatively quiet about what Trump’s allies allege was an effort by the outgoing Obama administration to illegally target and undermine the incoming Trump administration. Collins, on the other hand, led the charge against House Democrats’ impeachment of Trump from his former perch as the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, and has been a reliable ally in Trump’s fight to investigate the origins of the Russia probe.


The Justice Department earlier this year moved to drop all charges against Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to federal authorities about his contacts with Russia’s then-ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak. Flynn resigned as national security adviser in February 2017 after just a few weeks on the job, after he admitted to lying to Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Kislyak.

But Flynn has since become a hero of the Trump-supporting right, which argues that Flynn was unfairly targeted by Obama administration Justice Department officials. The president himself has supported a campaign against his political foes involved in the initial investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election, including special counsel Robert Mueller’s two-year probe.

When he served as acting director of national intelligence, Grenell was an active participant in the Trump-backed effort, moving to declassify certain documents about the Russia investigation. Democrats said those actions were intended to boost the president’s political fortunes.

The Georgia race, which is a special election to fill out the remainder of Isakson’s term, is likely to head to a runoff, with no candidate expected to reach the 50-percent threshold. Loeffler and Collins are polling close to one another, but Democratic candidate Raphael Warnock is on track to claim the top spot for the runoff. Loeffler and Collins are vying for the second slot.

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