Donald Trump pressured Georgia’s Republican secretary of state to “find” enough votes to overturn Joe Biden’s win in the state’s presidential election.
WASHINGTON (AP) — During a heated phone call, Donald Trump repeatedly cited disproven claims of fraud and raising the prospect of a “criminal offense” if officials did not change the vote count, according to a recording of the conversation.
The phone call with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Saturday was the latest step in an unprecedented effort by a sitting president to press a state official to reverse the outcome of a free and fair election that he lost. The president, who has refused to accept his loss to Democratic president-elect Biden, repeatedly argued that Raffensperger could change the certified results.
Full Phone Call: Trump Pressures Georgia Secretary of State To Recount Election Votes by NBC News.
“All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” Trump said. “Because we won the state.”
Georgia counted its votes three times before certifying Biden’s win by a 11,779 margin, Raffensperger noted. “President Trump, we’ve had several lawsuits, and we’ve had to respond in court to the lawsuits and the contentions,” he said on the call. “We don’t agree that you have won.”
Parts of the conversation were first posted online by The Washington Post. Trump’s renewed intervention and the persistent and unfounded claims of fraud come nearly two weeks before he leaves office and two days before twin runoff elections in Georgia that will determine political control of the U.S. Senate.
The president used the conversation to push through a list of claims about the election in Georgia, including that “hundreds of thousands of ballots mysteriously appeared in Fulton County”, which includes Atlanta. Officials have said there is no evidence of that happening.
The Georgia officials on the call are heard repeatedly pushing back against the president’s assertions, telling him that he’s relying on debunked theories and, in one case, selectively edited video.
At another point in the conversation, Trump appeared to threaten Raffensperger and Ryan Germany, the secretary of state’s legal counsel, by suggesting both could be criminally liable if they failed to find that thousands of ballots in Fulton County had been illegally destroyed. There is no evidence to support Trump’s claim.
Various election officials across the country and Trump’s former attorney general, William Barr, have said there was no widespread fraud in the election. Republican governors in Arizona and Georgia, key battleground states crucial to Biden’s victory, have also vouched for the integrity of their state elections. Nearly all the legal challenges from Trump and his allies have been dismissed by judges, including two tossed by the Supreme Court, which has three Trump-nominated justices.
In Georgia, the ballots were counted three times. One was a mandatory hand count and one was requested by Trump. Still, Trump has publicly disparaged the election, raising concerns among Republicans that GOP voters may be discouraged from participating in Tuesday’s runoffs pitting Sen. Kelly Loeffler against Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican David Perdue against Democrat Jon Ossoff.
READ THE FULL TRANSCRIPT OF THE PHONE CALL HERE
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