Georgia’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, insisted on Tuesday that the 2020 presidential election in his state “was not stolen” in an apparent defense of the latest criminal indictment of Donald Trump.

Kemp, who has clashed frequently with the former president over his false claim the election was rigged, responded on Twitter to an earlier post on Truth Social from Trump announcing a press conference next week at which he promised to present “irrefutable” evidence of fraud.

“The 2020 election in Georgia was not stolen. For nearly three years now, anyone with evidence of fraud has failed to come forward – under oath – and prove anything in a court of law,” Kemp wrote in his tweet.

“Our elections in Georgia are secure, accessible, and fair and will continue to be as long as I am governor. The future of our country is at stake in 2024 and that must be our focus.”

Kemp’s message was immediately endorsed by Chris Christie, the Republican former governor of New Jersey who is challenging Trump for the party’s 2024 presidential nomination.

“This is a strong leader telling the truth. Others should try it,” Christie wrote on Twitter, taking his own dig at Trump’s honesty.

Donald Trump and 18 others indicted in Georgia for trying to overturn 2020 election – video

Trump has previously railed against Kemp and Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, the recipient of his infamous phone call demanding officials “find” enough votes to nullify Joe Biden’s win.

That January 2021 conversation is believed to have been a central component of the investigation by the Fulton county district attorney, Fani Willis, that led to Trump’s Monday night indictment on charges including forgery and racketeering.

Kemp’s tweet referred to numerous failed efforts by Trump’s legal team in Georgia to overturn the result following Biden’s victory there by fewer than 12,000 votes. A judge dismissed one lawsuit alleging that 147,000 illegitimate ballots were wrongly counted, and the state’s supreme court refused to hear an appeal.

That lawsuit was supported by David Perdue, a Trump ally and former senator who challenged Kemp for their party’s gubernatorial nomination in 2022. Perdue’s defeat was widely regarded as a significant blow to Trump’s ongoing campaign to reverse his own loss.

It is the second time in five days that Kemp has tweeted a message directed at Trump, having accused him last week of putting himself “ahead of the future of our country” by declining to pledge support to the eventual 2024 Republican presidential nominee.

Trump has been equally critical of Kemp, the two having feuded since Trump blamed his 2020 humiliation in Georgia on the governor.

Kemp is among a number of senior Republicans, including Christie and Asa Hutchinson, the former governor of Arkansas, who have urged the party to move on from Trump, the leading candidate for its 2024 presidential nomination.

Analysts say Kemp’s style of conservative leadership offers a blueprint for the future if Trump’s grip on the party should loosen.

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