The Wall Street Journal has obtained a recording of a roughly six-minute phone call that then-President Donald Trump placed last December to a top Georgia investigator who was handling an audit of mail-in ballot signatures in Cobb County. The investigator, Frances Watson, reiterated her intention to stick to the facts during the conversation, but Trump “repeatedly said that he won Georgia,” as the Journal summarizes — a claim that is, of course, entirely disconnected from basic reality. Trump claimed during the Watson call that “something bad happened,” but the audit that she was leading concluded with no findings of any fraud.
In a similar way to his later phone conversation with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, Trump attempted to pressure Watson into making conclusions in line with his delusional conspiracy theories. As Trump put it at one point, “When the right answer comes out, you’ll be praised.” Trump’s idea of the “right answer” was a conclusion that fraud was responsible for Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia, but his idea was a delusion.
During his conversation with Watson, Trump claimed that he got in touch at the request of then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who personally visited the Cobb County audit site at one point. Trump pressured Watson to examine mail-in ballots in Fulton County, which is near Cobb, although Fulton did not fall under the purview of the audit that was underway. That audit included the examination of 15,000 mail-in ballot signatures that were submitted for the 2020 election, and, as mentioned, there was not a single finding of fraud.
As Trump put it at one point, though: “If you can get to Fulton, you are going to find things that are going to be unbelievable.” Watson did not “get to Fulton,” but other authorities who did handle election security checks in Fulton County found no systematic fraud.
Trump told Watson that his Georgia loss “never made sense and, you know, they dropped ballots. They dropped all these ballots. Stacey Abrams, really, really terrible,” but it’s unclear what he was even trying to discuss. What does “dropping ballots” mean, exactly? On other occasions, Trump attempted to characterize post-Election Day changes in reported vote tallies in nefarious terms, and that’s what he may have been trying to do here. That’s how counting works, though. Numbers change.
Trump’s incompetent and anti-democratic buffoonery has earned him a criminal investigation from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who is investigating issues including Trump’s election-related calls to Watson and Raffensperger.