In an hour-long phone call, President Donald Trump sought to pressure Georgia’s secretary of state Brad Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes,” or enough that would swing the state in his favor.
The audio of the call was first obtained by The Washington Post, and it quickly triggered concern and outrage over the president’s attempts to overturn the results of the presidential race, even as states have certified the results and courts more 50 times have rejected claims by Trump and his allies.
In the call, Trump tells Raffensperger that, even though the state has conducted two recounts and certified the results in favor of Joe Biden, there would be “nothing wrong” with him “saying, you know, that you’ve recalculated.”
“Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is, the data you have is wrong,” Raffensperger responded.
Audio: Trump berates Ga. secretary of state, urges him to “find” votes https://t.co/Pibw9gBt1A
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) January 3, 2021
In the call, Trump insisted that there was “no way I lost Georgia,” and he repeated conspiracy theories about the results there, including that ballots were shredded and that a voting machine company, Dominion, sought to get rid of their machinery to remove potential evidence.
“No, Dominion has not moved any machinery out of Fulton County,” Ryan Germany, the general counsel for the Georgia secretary of state, tells Trump.
When Trump asks him whether they have moved “the inner parts of the machine and replaced them with other parts,” Germany tells him, “No.”
“You sure, Ryan?” Trump asks him.
“I’m sure,” Germany adds.
At one point in the call, Trump suggested that Raffensberger, a Republican, was taking a risk by not “reporting it.” Trump was referring to his claim that the election was stolen from him.
“You know what they did, and you’re not reporting it,” Trump said on the call. “That’s a criminal, that’s a criminal offense, and you can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer. That’s a big risk.”
But during the call, Raffensperger and Germany repeatedly resist Trump’s efforts to change the results.
Before the audio of the call was released, Trump tweeted, “I spoke to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger yesterday about Fulton County and voter fraud in Georgia. He was unwilling, or unable, to answer questions such as the ‘ballots under table’ scam, ballot destruction, out of state ‘voters,’ dead voters, and more. He has no clue!” Twitter put a fact-checking flag on the tweet, while Raffensperger replied, “Respectfully, President Trump: What you’re saying is not true. The truth will come out.”
The conspiracy theories about the election results have gotten a lot of play on pro-Trump conservative outlets like Newsmax and One America News Network, and even though the claims are unfounded, the president continues to push them. On Wednesday, when a joint session of Congress meets to count the electoral votes, giving Biden a 306-232 victory over Trump, dozens of Republicans in the House and Senate plan to object.
The former House Speaker, Paul Ryan, a board member of Fox Corp., released a statement in which he said that “efforts to reject the votes of the Electoral College and sow doubt about Joe Biden’s victory strike at the foundation of our republic. It is difficult to conceive or a more anti-democratic and anti-conservative act than a federal intervention to overturn the results of state-certified elections and disenfranchise millions of Americans. The fact that this effort will fail does not mean it will not do significant damage to American democracy.”