Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger speaks during a news conference on election results in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., December 2, 2020.
Elijah Nouvelage | Reuters
President Donald Trump, in an extraordinary phone call this weekend, pressured Georgia’s Republican secretary of state to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state by finding votes to slant the count in his favor, according to audio obtained by NBC News.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger resisted pressure from Trump to change Georgia’s election results even as the president made veiled threats about potential criminal prosecution if he was refused. The call took place Saturday.
Trump told Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, that Georgia’s vote count was off by hundreds of thousand of votes and suggested that the secretary of state announce he had recalculated the numbers to show a Trump victory in the key swing state.
“Well Mr. President, the challenge that you have is the data that you have is wrong,” Raffensberger responded, according to the recording.
Raffensperger and the secretary’s general counsel, attorney Ryan Germany, also pushed back on Trump’s assertions that ballots had been shredded or that the company Dominion had removed parts of voting machines in Georgia that would show more Republican votes.
The contents of the phone call were first reported by The Washington Post.
Trump referenced the Saturday phone call in a Sunday morning tweet, saying that Raffensperger could not answer his questions about alleged voter fraud and saying “he has no clue.” Raffensperger responded on Twitter, writing, “What you’re saying is not true. The truth will come out.”
Georgia is one of several states where the Trump campaign or the president’s supporters have fought unsuccessfully to change or invalidate vote counts since Trump’s loss to Joe Biden in the November election.
None of the lawsuits, recounts or investigations in any state has found the type of widespread voter fraud or miscounting that would be needed to flip the election in Trump’s favor. Trump, who has refused to concede the election, said during the call that he wanted “to find 11,780 votes” to change the result in Georgia.
The vote counts in Georgia and other states from the November election have already been certified, and the Electoral College has confirmed Joe Biden’s victory.
The president also hinted at potential legal consequences for Raffensperger if his demands were not met.
“You know what they did, and you’re not reporting it,” Trump said during the call. “That’s a criminal, that’s a criminal offense. And you can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer. That’s a big risk.”
The phone call comes just days before two key Senate runoffs in Georgia, where victories by the Democratic candidates in both races would flip control of the chamber, and less than a month before Biden’s inauguration.