ATLANTA — Georgia’s Secretary of State is speaking only to Channel 2 Action News about his steps during the final weeks of the Trump administration’s push to overturn votes in Georgia.
Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Mark Winne spoke exclusively with Brad Raffensperger about what was going on behind the scenes as a nation watched -- a measure of the kind of pressure top Georgia elections officials felt at one point.
One Raffensperger aide said she was so petrified that she and colleagues felt the need to get attorneys “for just doing our jobs.”
[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]
Georgia Secretary of State opens investigation into Trump’s attempts to overturn election results
FULL AUDIO: Call between President Trump, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on election
Trump pressured Raffensperger to overturn election results in phone call, recordings reveal
“I knew that we had to stand on the truth and we had to follow the numbers,” Raffensberger said. “My dad, you know, brought me up to have integrity.”
Raffensperger said that in the waning days of the Trump administration, around the time of the U.S. Senate runoff election, there were concerns in the upper levels of the Georgia Secretary of State’s office about the possibility of the federal criminal justice system being used inappropriately for political retaliation.
The fears were so strong that Raffensperger and other key staffers retained their own personal attorneys.
Trump famously made a phone call to Raffensperger in January, asking him to “find” him more votes and overturn the state’s election results. Trump also repeatedly made unfounded claims that there was election fraud in Georgia, which Raffensperger repeatedly denied.
“They are shredding ballots, in my opinion, based on what I’ve heard,” Trump said on the recorded calls. “And they are removing machinery, and they’re moving it as fast as they can, both of which are criminal finds. And you can’t let it happen, and you are letting it happen.”
Raffensperger said he had confidence that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta would do the right thing.
Former U.S. Attorney Byung Jin “BJay” Pak had stayed in close contact with Raffensperger’s office throughout election fraud investigations. Pak told Winne that Raffensperger was correct, that the U.S. Attorney’s Office was going to do the right thing, not something that Trump told the office to do that wasn’t supported by the law and the facts.
Raffensperger said the FBI had agents in State Farm Arena, where ballots were processed. Bobby Christine, who was the acting U.S. Attorney after Pak resigned, served on the Secretary of State’s absentee ballot fraud task force.
A Raffensperger aide said his office has no doubts about the integrity of the current acting U.S. Attorney either, and eventually they became 100% confident that the U.S. Department of Justice on a national level would not be a party to political retaliation.
Raffensperger said that now, his concerns about the possibility of wrongful prosecution have passed.
“We’re gonna fight hard to make sure we have honest and fair elections with the appropriate balance of accessibility and security,” Raffensperger said.
[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]