On Saturday, President Donald Trump spent about an hour ranting at Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, in a phone conversation that also included Raffensperger’s legal counsel, Ryan Germany, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, and others. Through a slew of arguments, Trump tried to pressure Raffensperger into finding some mechanism to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s win in the state, days ahead of the scheduled joint Congressional session where legislative leaders will certify Biden’s electoral college victory. During the call, Trump petulantly belittled Raffensperger, who the president referred to as a “child” and “either dishonest or incompetent” over his refusal to agree that fraud plagued the election.
Experts told The Washington Post that “Trump’s conversation with Raffensperger put him in legally questionable territory… [because via] exhorting the secretary of state to “find” votes and to deploy investigators who “want to find answers,” Trump appears to be encouraging him to doctor the election outcome in Georgia.” Listen to Trump’s ranting below:
At one point, Trump — who The Washington Post describes as sounding “angry and impatient” and “at times incoherent” — commented to Raffensperger as follows:
‘So tell me, Brad, what are we going to do? We won the election, and it’s not fair to take it away from us like this. And it’s going to be very costly in many ways. And I think you have to say that you’re going to reexamine it, and you can reexamine it, but reexamine it with people that want to find answers, not people who don’t want to find answers.’
Expounding upon his idea that failing to fall in line with his lies would be “costly” for Georgia state officials, at one point, Trump insisted that failing to conclude that thousands of ballots were destroyed in Fulton County would constitute “a criminal offense,” despite the fact that there’s no legitimate supporting evidence for the claim.
At another point, Trump belligerently insisted that he wanted to “find” enough votes to win the state, commenting as follows:
‘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.’
What would “finding” ballots entail, exactly? Would Trump want Raffensperger to concoct fraudulent evidence to support his lies? Alternatively, does Trump legitimately think that there are boxes and boxes of votes in his favor that are just… hidden in a closet, or something? Trump insisted to Raffensperger that he “won by hundreds of thousands of votes,” for which there’s just no legitimate evidence.
Trump tried to point to supposed evidence, but he’s refused to acknowledge the repeated repudiations of his claims. At one point, Trump asked “why… they put the votes in three times,” referring to an allegation of repeatedly counted ballots, but Raffensperger replied:
‘Mr. President, they did not. We did an audit of that and we proved conclusively that they were not scanned three times.’
On Sunday, Trump discussed the Raffensperger conversation on Twitter, ranting as follows:
‘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!’
Raffensperger replied as follows:
‘Respectfully, President Trump: What you’re saying is not true. The truth will come out.’
Respectfully, President Trump: What you're saying is not true. The truth will come out https://t.co/ViYjTSeRcC
— GA Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (@GaSecofState) January 3, 2021