United States President Donald Trump allegedly urged Georgia’s top election official to recalculate the state’s presidential election results in his favour, while warning the official he was taking “a big risk” if he did not comply, according to the audio of an hourlong phone call obtained by The Washington Post.
During the call on Saturday, Trump continued his attempts to overturn the election results in Georgia, where President-elect Joe Biden won by a margin of just below 12,000 votes.
Trump has, to date, refused to concede to Biden, despite a resounding loss in the November 3 election. Attempts to overturn the results in several states have uniformly failed.
Georgia had already conducted several audits and recounts of the result, which affirmed Biden’s victory, and officially certified those results, which will be approved by Congress on January 6.
Still, Trump told Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger: “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.”
During another point in the phone call, Trump told Raffensperger: “The people of Georgia are angry, the people in the country are angry … And there’s nothing wrong with saying, you know, that you’ve recalculated.”
Raffensperger responded: “Well, Mr President, the challenge that you have is, the data you have is wrong.”
Since the November 3 election, 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.
Trump’s close allies were on the line during the call, including his Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and conservative lawyer Cleta Mitchell. Raffensperger’s general counsel Ryan Germany was also on the call, according to The Washington Post.
The Washington Post said the White House, the Trump campaign and Meadows did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and Raffensperger’s office declined to comment.
On Sunday before the Post released the recording, Trump tweeted about his call with Raffensperger writing, “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 tweeted a response saying, “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
At another point in the call, Trump suggested that if Raffensperger and Germany do not find thousands of ballots illegally destroyed in Fulton County, which there is no evidence of occurring, it is a “criminal offence”.
“And you can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer,” Trump said.
Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher, reporting from Atlanta, Georgia, called the recording “perhaps the most remarkable piece of audio that has come out of the Oval Office of the White House since the Nixon tapes in the 1970s”.
Georgia is set to hold two runoff Senate elections on Tuesday, which will decide which party controls the chamber.
Trump, who will campaign in support of the Republican candidates in Georgia on Monday, said during the call that he will discuss the fraud allegations during the event.