ATLANTA — President Donald Trump asked Georgia’s Secretary of State to “find” him 11,000 more votes and to overturn his defeat in the state on a recorded phone call Saturday.
The Washington Post first released parts of the hour-long recording on Sunday. Channel 2′s Justin Gray has since independently obtained the recordings.
[SPECIAL SECTION: Election 2020]
In the explosive phone call, Trump pressures Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to reverse President-elect Joe Biden’s slim, 11,779-vote lead in Georgia. Trump has so far refused to accept his loss to Biden.
“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 says.
Several White House staff members and Raffensperger’s lawyer were also on the call, but on the vast majority of the recording, Trump does the talking. The call begins with a 12-minute monologue from Trump about why he believes he won in Georgia.
There are times, however, when Raffensperger pushes back against the President.
“You should want to have an accurate election, and you’re a Republican,” Trump says in one exchange.
“We believe we have an accurate election,” Raffensperger says.
“Well, Mr. President... the data that you have is wrong,” Raffensperger said.
“The people of Georgia are angry, the people in the country are angry. And there’s nothing wrong with saying, you know, um, that you’ve recalculated,” Trump fires back.
At one point, Trump warns Raffensperger and his lawyer, Ryan German, could be at risk for criminal charges if they don’t change the election’s outcome.
“It’s more illegal for you than it is for them,” Trump says. “Because you know what they did, and you’re not reporting it. That’s it, you know, that’s a criminal. That’s a criminal offense. And you know you can’t let that happen. That’s, that’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyers. That’s a big risk.”
Trump also accused Raffensperger of hurting Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue’s chances of holding on to their Senate seats.
“Because of what you’ve done to the President, a lot of people are going out to vote, and a lot of Republicans are gonna go negative, because they hate what you did to the President,” Trump says.
Channel 2 Action News reached out to the Secretary of State’s office, which declined to comment on the call.
Trump appeared to tweet about the phone call Sunday, saying he spoke to Raffensperger and that the secretary of state 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!”
Raffensperger tweeted his own response: “Respectfully, President Trump: What you’re saying is not true. The truth will come out.”
President-elect Joe Biden’s campaign also released a statement about the call Sunday night.
“We now have irrefutable proof that a president pressuring and threatening an official of his own party to get him to rescind a state’s lawful, certified vote count and fabricate another in its place. It captures the whole, disgraceful story of Donald Trump’s assault on American democracy,” Biden campaign spokesperson Bob Bauer said.
Trump has repeatedly attacked how Raffensperger ran Georgia’s elections, claiming without evidence that the state’s 16 electoral votes were wrongly given to Biden.
The conversation Saturday was the latest step in an unprecedented effort by a sitting president to pressure a state official to reverse the outcome of a free and fair election that he lost. The renewed intervention and the persistent and unfounded claims of fraud by the first president to lose reelection in almost 30 years come nearly two weeks before Trump leaves office and two days before twin runoffs in Georgia that will determine control of the Senate.
Congress is set to certify the results of the 2020 election on Wednesday. At least a dozen Republican congressmen have said they will oppose the Electoral College results unless an audit is conducted. Cruz’s group does not expect to overturn the election results. They said they are working to restore faith in the democratic process.
There has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud. Dozens of lawsuits by President Donald Trump’s campaign challenging the results have been thrown out of courts across the country.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
GEORGIA VOTER GUIDE:
- How to vote by absentee ballot for Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoff elections
- COUNTY-BY-COUNTY: Where can I early vote in north Georgia for the Senate runoff?
- INTERACTIVE MAP: Where can I drop off my absentee ballot in metro Atlanta?
- Meet the candidates running for Georgia’s U.S. Senate Seat: David Perdue vs. Jon Ossoff
- Meet candidates for Georgia’s U.S. Senate Seat: Kelly Loeffler vs. Raphael Warnock