‘I just want to find 11,780 votes’: In extraordinary hour-long call, Trump pressures Georgia secretary of state to recalculate the vote in his favor

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-raffensperger-call-georgia-vote/2021/01/03/d45acb92-4dc4-11eb-bda4-615aaefd0555_story.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/politics/audio-trump-berates-ga-secretary-of-state-urges-him-to-find-votes/2021/01/03/aba64f5f-8c3c-490f-af34-618ccea732d7_video.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/c/embed/aba64f5f-8c3c-490f-af34-618ccea732d7

Jan. 3, 2021 at 12:59 p.m. EST

President Trump urged fellow Republican Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, to “find” enough votes to overturn his defeat in an extraordinary one-hour phone call Saturday that election experts said raised legal questions.

 

The Washington Post obtained a recording of the conversation in which Trump alternately berated Raffensperger, tried to flatter him, begged him to act and threatened him with vague criminal consequences if the secretary of state refused to pursue his false claims, at one point warning that Raffensperger was taking “a big risk.”

Throughout the call, Raffensperger and his office’s general counsel rejected Trump’s assertions, explaining that the president is relying on debunked conspiracy theories and that President-elect Joe Biden’s 11,779-vote victory in Georgia was fair and accurate.

 
 
President Trump walks to the Oval Office after returning from Florida on Thursday.

Trump dismissed their arguments.

“The people of Georgia are angry, the people in the country are angry,” he said. “And there’s nothing wrong with saying, you know, um, that you’ve recalculated.”

Raffensperger responded: “Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is, the data you have is wrong.”

At another point, Trump said: “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.”

The rambling and at times incoherent conversation offered a remarkable glimpse of how consumed and desperate the president remains about his loss, unwilling or unable to let the matter go and still believing he can reverse the results in enough battleground states to remain in office.

 

“There’s no way I lost Georgia,” Trump said, a phrase he repeated again and again on the call. “There’s no way. We won by hundreds of thousands of votes.”

 

Several of his allies were on the line as he spoke, including White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and conservative lawyer Cleta Mitchell, a prominent GOP lawyer whose involvement with Trump’s efforts had not been previously known.

In a statement, Mitchell said Raffensperger’s office “has made many statements over the past two months that are simply not correct and everyone involved with the efforts on behalf of the President’s election challenge has said the same thing: show us your records on which you rely to make these statements that our numbers are wrong.”

 

The White House, the Trump campaign and Meadows did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Raffensperger’s office declined to comment.

On Sunday, Trump tweeted that he had spoken to Raffensperger, saying 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 responded with his own tweet: “Respectfully, President Trump: What you’re saying is not true.”

The pressure Trump put on Raffensperger is the latest example of his attempt to subvert the outcome of the Nov. 3 election through personal outreach to state Republican officials. He previously invited Michigan Republican state leaders to the White House, pressured Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) in a call to try to replace that state’s electors and asked the speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to help reverse his loss in that state.

 

His call to Raffensperger came as scores of Republicans have pledged to challenge the electoral college’s vote for Biden when Congress convenes for a joint session on Wednesday. Republicans do not have the votes to successfully thwart Biden’s victory, but Trump has urged supporters to travel to Washington to protest the outcome, and state and federal officials are already bracing for clashes outside the Capitol.

During their conversation, Trump issued a vague threat to both Raffensperger and Ryan Germany, the secretary of state’s general counsel, suggesting that if they don’t find that thousands of ballots in Fulton County have been illegally destroyed to block investigators — an allegation for which there is no evidence — they would be subject to criminal liability.

 

“That’s a criminal offense,” he said. “And you can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer.”

 

Trump also told Raffensperger that failure to act by Tuesday would jeopardize the political fortunes of David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, Georgia’s two Republican senators whose fate in that day’s runoff elections will determine control of the U.S. Senate.

Trump said he plans to talk about the fraud on Monday, when he is scheduled to lead an election eve rally in Dalton, Ga. — a message that could further muddle the efforts of Republicans to get their voters out.

“You have a big election coming up and because of what you’ve done to the president — you know, the people of Georgia know that this was a scam,” Trump said. “Because of what you’ve done to the president, a lot of people aren’t going out to vote, and a lot of Republicans are going to vote negative, because they hate what you did to the president. Okay? They hate it. And they’re going to vote. And you would be respected, really respected, if this can be straightened out before the election.”

 
 

Trump’s conversation with Raffensperger put him in legally questionable territory, legal experts said. By 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.

But experts said Trump’s clearer transgression is a moral one. Edward B. Foley, a law professor at Ohio State University, said that the legal questions are murky and would be subject to prosecutorial discretion. But he also emphasized that the call was “inappropriate and contemptible” and should prompt moral outrage.

“He was already tripping the emergency meter,” Foley said. “So we were at 12 on a scale of 1 to 10, and now we’re at 15.”

 

Throughout the call, Trump detailed an exhaustive list of disinformation and conspiracy theories to support his position. He claimed without evidence that he had won Georgia by at least a half-million votes. He floated a barrage of assertions that have been investigated and disproved: that thousands of dead people voted; that an Atlanta election worker scanned 18,000 forged ballots three times each and “100 percent” were for Biden; that thousands more voters living out of state came back to Georgia illegally just to vote in the election.

 

“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,” Trump said. “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.”

Trump did most of the talking on the call. He was angry and impatient, calling Raffensperger a “child” and “either dishonest or incompetent” for not believing there was widespread ballot fraud in Atlanta — and twice calling himself a “schmuck” for endorsing Kemp, whom Trump holds in particular contempt for not embracing his claims of fraud.

 

“I can’t imagine he’s ever getting elected again, I’ll tell you that much right now,” he said.

 

He also took aim at Kemp’s 2018 opponent, Democrat Stacey Abrams, trying to shame Raffensperger with the idea that his refusal to embrace fraud has helped her and Democrats generally. “Stacey Abrams is laughing about you,” he said. “She’s going around saying, ‘These guys are dumber than a rock.’ What she’s done to this party is unbelievable, I tell you.”

The secretary of state repeatedly sought to push back, saying at one point, “Mr. President, the problem you have with social media, that — people can say anything.”

“Oh this isn’t social media,” Trump retorted. “This is Trump media. It’s not social media. It’s really not. It’s not social media. I don’t care about social media. I couldn’t care less.”

At another point, Trump claimed that votes were scanned three times: “Brad, why did they put the votes in three times? You know, they put ’em in three times.”

 

Raffensperger responded: “Mr. President, they did not. We did an audit of that and we proved conclusively that they were not scanned three times.”

Trump sounded at turns confused and meandering. At one point, he referred to Kemp as “George.” He tossed out several different figures for Biden’s margin of victory in Georgia and referred to the Senate runoff, which is Tuesday, as happening “tomorrow” and “Monday.”

His desperation was perhaps most pronounced during an exchange with Germany, Raffensperger’s general counsel, in which he openly begged for validation.

Trump: “Do you think it’s possible that they shredded ballots in Fulton County? ’Cause that’s what the rumor is. And also that Dominion took out machines. That Dominion is really moving fast to get rid of their, uh, machinery. Do you know anything about that? Because that’s illegal.”

Germany responded: “No, Dominion has not moved any machinery out of Fulton County.”

Trump: “But have they moved the inner parts of the machines and replaced them with other parts?”

Germany: “No.”

Trump: “Are you sure? Ryan?”

Germany: “I’m sure. I’m sure, Mr. President.”

It was clear from the call that Trump has surrounded himself with aides who have fed his false perceptions that the election was stolen. When he claimed that more than 5,000 ballots were cast in Georgia in the name of dead people, Raffensperger responded forcefully: “The actual number was two. Two. Two people that were dead that voted.”

But later, Meadows said, “I can promise you there are more than that.”

Another Trump lawyer on the call, Kurt Hilbert, accused Raffensperger’s office of refusing to turn over data to assess evidence of fraud, and also claimed awareness of at least 24,000 illegally cast ballots that would flip the result to Trump.

“It stands to reason that if the information is not forthcoming, there’s something to hide,” Hilbert said. “That’s the problem that we have.”

Reached by phone Sunday, Hilbert declined to comment.

In the end, Trump asked Germany to sit down with one of his attorneys to go over the allegations. Germany agreed.

Yet Trump also recognized that he was failing to persuade Raffensperger or Germany of anything, saying toward the end, “I know this phone call is going nowhere.”

But he continued to make his case in repetitive fashion, until finally, after roughly an hour, Raffensperger put an end to the conversation: “Thank you, President Trump, for your time.”

It is very clear that not only does the truth and reality not mean anything to tRump it is also clear tRump thinks of himself as a single person ruler able to dispense punishment or grant boons as he chooses.   He sees himself as above the laws.    He also sees himself in great trouble if he doesn’t stay in office.    In his business he has been able to use his voice to threaten, beg, wheel and deal to get what he wants.   Like a little kid just not taking no for an answer until the adults give in, or bullying those who can not stand up to him.   This time we may stop him.   I worry about the next one like him but smarter?   Unless we strengthen our system, make our democracy stronger, we may lose.   Hugs

   

20 thoughts on “‘I just want to find 11,780 votes’: In extraordinary hour-long call, Trump pressures Georgia secretary of state to recalculate the vote in his favor

    • Hello Nan. My understanding from reading is that he is now sure he will be indicted. He is a crook who convinced himself he was above the law, now seeing the law move in on him and his family. That was what the veto was about. The bill had an anti-money laundering part to it, and that would cut into his business. He and Jared set up a offshore shell account to take nearly half the billion dollars he fund raised. No one knows where it went and this law would change that. He is in big trouble with it. Now I read of reports he may rush off to Scotland on the 19th of January. Hugs

      Liked by 1 person

        • Hello Nan. What part? The fear he will be indicted. The shell company? I have news alerts on my phone, news sites running on open tabs on my computer, and even when I am laying down before or after I sleep I read news. Plus I watch clips of news shows on my secondary computer while I am working on my main one, like what I am doing right now. So even when I do not post stuff I am still seeing news on the issues. The sad thing is I am normally now too tired to post much. In fact I am off to bed again as soon as I send this. I just wish I could retain more information than I do. Hugs

          Like

          • Almost all of it. I knew about the call (who didn’t?), but some of the other info was new to me.

            However, since everything happens at such a fast pace nowadays, I’m now aware of the other info you shared.

            I’m going to say it again … you MUST find about what is causing your sleep and tiredness problems!!!!!

            Liked by 1 person

            • Hello Nan. Think of the exciting information you hear first here on my Toy Box. I want to thank you for questioning things that don’t sound correct to you. It keeps me on my toes and keeps the news I put out as honest as possible. As for sleep, yesterday was a two pot coffee day and a fitful sleep. I got up at five this morning to feet the very ill cat some food as he stopped eating, and I drank a pot of coffee. Then went for a two hour nap. On my second pot now. It doesn’t help that our 14 year old cat is very ill. He wants to be with me or held by me at all times. He is getting better, and will have an ultrasound tomorrow morning. Getting the medication into him was a real struggle, but he is sort of given up and lets us do it. He also lets me clean his nose, but not Ron. Vets costs more than my doctors. Good thing we got that stimulus as the combined amount is going for the cause of making him better.

              My doctor ordered another new blood sugar meter. Plus all new supplies. When I feel tired they want me to check my blood and record the readings. Just waiting for the supplies to come in.

              It is 7 PM. I am proud I stayed up this late. But I am off to bed. Best wishes. If I miss anything while sleeping let me know tomorrow. Hugs

              Liked by 1 person

              • Sorry about the cat. Sick animals are one of the most stressful things many of us humans experience.

                No wonder your sleep was fitful after two pots of coffee!! You do know, don’t you, that coffee is DESIGNED to keep you AWAKE!! 🙄

                Liked by 1 person

                • Hello Nan. We learned yesterday the old fellow has numbered days. He has polycystic kidney disease. They are stunned he lived as long and his labs as good. His kidneys are two big fluid cysts sacks. There basically is not much kidney left. We have to decide tomorrow if we want to give him shots and bolus of fluid twice a week. The vet says at most it would give him weeks to a month or two of longer life. He has only weeks now and could deteriorate to needing to be put to sleep at any time now. He is the one that sleeps on my pillow with me and has taken to sleeping so he can touch and stare at my face. He has been with me or on me all day today. We are opening cans of wet food so he will lick up the gravy and the little bit of solid food he wants. It is a waste he won’t eat most of it, but what can we do? Anyway I have had four cups of coffee tonight so I should be good for a few hours. Hugs

                  Like

                  • Oh bummer, Scottie. That sounds so sad. I know it will be probably more than you can bear, but are you sure that putting him down (for his sake) isn’t the best thing to do right now?

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Hello Nan. as soon as he seems to be in pain we will. We have talked about it. Right now he is very thin, seems fragile and frail, but he also doesn’t seem to be in pain. So I won’t take the last few days of life from him. He sleeps more than before, and wants to be with me. He wants to be held or lay in bed with me.

                      But that is what we have to decide if our giving him medication is going to make him feel better or make his last part of life unhappy being stuck with needles. Is it for us and our sadness or his quality of life? The vet was not going to advise either way. Hugs

                      Liked by 1 person

    • Hello TokyoSand. That is the truth. But now everyone can clearly see what a crime boss want to be he is. Even his cult has to see he was clearly calling for laws to be broken to simply make him president when the majority voted for Biden. What scares me is how many Republicans are 100% behind him destroying democracy and becoming a lifetime ruler. Hugs

      Liked by 1 person

  • “They are laughing at you.”

    They are laughing at you, Donald. You are the laughing stock of the world. The dreadful thing is that you have dragged our nation down into the hog-wallow with you. You have exposed our religions, industrialists, and ‘conservatives’ for the literal scum that they are. They have no nation, no allegiance, no fidelity, no fealty to a god of any caliber.

    There are so many Republicans and Christians who have no guilt in this. The Republican Party and the title ‘Christian’ have been used by these fascist elements to their own ends. The republican party is decimated and the Christian religion has lost all credibility because they have allowed leaders to take them into such a quagmire. I wonder how many will recover from this. Will they remain Republicans and Christians?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hello Cagjr. I would say that the Republicans and the Christians have no shame but are very guilty. I feel the ones in each group that doesn’t support what the leaders / vocal members of the group is pushing they have a responsibility to speak up and counter them, or stop claiming to be part of the group. Both groups have shown they are not interested in people’s rights they simply want to control people’s lives. And for the same reason it seems, power and wealth. Hugs

      Like

  • Scottie, while the WSJ editorial board wrote a scathing rebuke of Trump and his toadies efforts of an “undemocratic coup” using The New York Post’s term and former Speaker Paul Ryan (R) did the same, the best evidence of how inane the attempt is came from the outgoing president himself. His coercion of the Republican Sec of State of Georgia to change these votes is a “throw over the checkers board and rant around the room” moment. One person on the call remembered his oath and his duty while the other was performing an illegal act. Cagir is right above – the world is laughing at the outgoing president. And, this is the person the toadies want to remain in power? Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hello Keith. The toadies. It stuns me how many elected Republicans think tRump is going to remain a king maker and not fade away. The ones supporting his attempt to overthrow democracy want to make sure his cult base followers vote for them, not against them in any primary. But what they don’t realize is that by trying to please that small percent of the cult base, they are losing the rest of the people in the country. At least I hope the rest of the country finds this attempt to overthrow our democracy unacceptable.

      As for the world laughing at us, I wish the people in this country would open their eyes as to the real condition of the country and our place in the world. Far too many people believe the myth of “American Exceptionalism” and do not realize the world has moved on past us over the last 50 years because the US stopped progressing turning instead to regression. Now instead of the world learning from us, we need to start learning from the rest of the world. The idea we must be correct all the time because we have a larger military is only the might makes right argument. Hugs

      Liked by 1 person

  • And to think this is most likely only ONE of many such calls …

    Some say he crossed the line in his threats and could be brought up on charges. Sadly, I won’t hold my breath.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Nan. The Sec Of State of Georgia said he recorded the call because Lindsey Graham had called him, asked him to do an illegal act, then lied about it. He tried hard to not take tRump’s calls. You are correct, I have watched news clips of people saying it was the same as the Ukrainian call. I think most people understand tRump is a thug mob boss want to be and this is how he operates. Michael Cohen said tRump tries to phrase things so he can get others to do an illegal act he wants but that tRump can not be accused of ordering the illegal act committed. Cohen said you knew what tRump wanted and what he expected you to do. Seems we heard that on the Georgia call. Hugs

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sometimes I think people underestimate Trump. He’s illiterate and a real dummy in some areas, but when it comes to manipulation to get what he wants, he’s an expert par excellence.

        Liked by 1 person

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