President Trump, facing his last days in office before he becomes a private citizen and making increasingly desperate moves to try to hold onto power, is under fire after pressuring the Georgia Secretary of State in a phone call to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s win there.
Trump spent roughly an hour on the phone with Republican Brad Raffensperger on Saturday claiming the November presidential election was fraudulent and demanding the results be overturned, according to audio of the call obtained by the Washington Post.
Here’s a look at the backstory of the call, according to Politico and other reports:
Georgia Secretary of State Raffensperger was contacted in November by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. Raffensperger told the Washington Post at the time that Graham asked whether he had the power to toss all mail-in ballots in areas that had higher-than-average rates of signature mismatches, Raffensperger said. Graham has denied making such a suggestion.
Trump sent a handful of angry tweets directed at Raffensperger throughout December, with one saying the Georgia Secretary of State and other officials would be solely responsible if Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler were to lose their runoff elections Jan. 5. His surrogates, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, also continued to slam Raffensperger and other officials, who have since received death threats.
RINOS @BrianKempGA, @GeoffDuncanGA, & Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, will be solely responsible for the potential loss of our two GREAT Senators from Georgia, @sendavidperdue & @KLoeffler. Won’t call a Special Session or check for Signature Verification! People are ANGRY!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 8, 2020
The White House attempted to contact Raffensperger at least 18 times before the two finally spoke over the weekend, according to CNN. When Trump and Raffensperger finally did speak on Saturday, aides to the Republican Secretary of State reportedly decided to record it.
“Lindsey Graham asked us to throw out legally cast ballots. So yeah, after that call, we decided maybe we should do this,” one aide told Politico.
During the call, which also included White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and lawyers for each side, Trump renewed his baseless allegations of election fraud, asking Raffensperger whether he was aware of specific claims, only to be told repeatedly they had been investigated and found meritless. Eventually, Trump said he wanted to “find” enough votes to flip the state from Biden to him.
“So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have because we won the state,” Trump said. Biden won the state of Georgia by 11,779 votes.
Following their call, President Trump tweeted Sunday, claiming Raffensperger was “unwilling, or unable” to answer questions about electoral fraud. Raffensperger quickly responded with his own tweet, vowing that the truth would “come out.” Recordings of the call surfaced in the Washington Post and Atlanta Journal-Constitution later that day.
Trump had not yet directly responded to the release of the audio as of midday Monday, but he was set to travel to Georgia on Monday evening to campaign for Loeffler and Perdue, where he promised to discuss “the real numbers” during his speech.