A new schism — this one between MAGA forces — is taking shape, further threatening GOP unity in advance of the Jan. 5 runoffs for the state's two Senate seats.
At the center of the conflict is pro-Trump trial lawyer Lin Wood. His advocacy for President Donald Trump — and his unsubstantiated claims of election fraud — have been so extreme that he's now taken to publicly discouraging people from voting for Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, arguing that the runoff elections are already rigged.
Amid party fears that a MAGA boycott could cost them control of the U.S. Senate, Trump privately spoke by phone this week with Wood to tell him to "knock it off," a source briefed on the discussion told POLITICO.
Axios was first to report on the call to Wood and lawyer Sidney Powell, whom Trump had dismissed from his legal team after she espoused expansive conspiracy theories.
Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who helped build the modern Republican Party in Georgia, theorized the lawyers were whipping up conservatives because "they understand that if they're out there saying more and more radical things, they'll get more publicity."
"It's one of the nuttier things I've seen in a long time in politics," Gingrich told POLITICO, adding that it's OK for Trump to question whether the vote against him was rigged — as long as he tells Republicans to vote for Perdue and Loeffler, and to not listen to Wood.