Article of the Day: 1/3/21–Democracy under attack by a would-be dictator

Trump Pressured Georgia Official to ‘Find’ Enough Votes to Overturn Election

The president vaguely warned of a “criminal offense” as he pressured Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in a call, according to audio excerpts.

President Trump has spent almost nine weeks making false conspiracy claims about his election loss.
President Trump has spent almost nine weeks making false conspiracy claims about his election loss.Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times
Michael D. Shear

By Michael D. Shear

  • Jan. 3, 2021, 2:28 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON — President Trump demanded that Georgia’s Republican secretary of state “find” him enough votes to overturn the presidential election, and vaguely threatened him with “a criminal offense,” during an hourlong telephone conversation with him on Saturday, according to audio excerpts from the conversation.

Mr. Trump, who has spent almost nine weeks making false conspiracy claims about his loss to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., told Brad Raffensperger, the state’s top elections official, that Mr. Raffensperger should recalculate the vote count so Mr. Trump would win the state’s 16 electoral votes.

“I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” Mr. Trump said on the call, a recording of which was obtained by The Washington Post, which published excerpts from the audio on its website Sunday. “Because we won the state.”

Mr. Raffensperger rejected the president’s efforts to get him to reverse the election results, which are set to be certified by Congress during a session on Wednesday. Some of Mr. Trump’s allies in the House and the Senate have said they will object to the results of the elections in several states, including Georgia.

But Mr. Raffensperger told Mr. Trump that he stood by the results.

“Well, Mr. President, the challenge is that you have is the data you have is wrong,” he said, according to the audio recording.

During the call, the president offered several false conspiracy theories, including debunked charges that ballots in Fulton County were shredded and that voting machines operated by Dominion Voting Systems were tampered with and replaced. Ryan Germany, the legal counsel in Mr. Raffensperger’s office, can be heard telling the president that such charges are untrue.

“You should want to have an accurate election. And you’re a Republican,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Raffensperger, who replied that “we believe we that we do have an accurate election.”

Mr. Trump responded: “No, no, no, you don’t, you don’t have, you don’t have, not even close. You guys, you’re off by hundreds of thousands of votes.”

Then the president suggested that Mr. Raffensperger could be prosecuted criminally.

“You know what they did and you’re not reporting it,” the president said. “You know, that’s a criminal — that’s a criminal offense. And you know, you can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer. That’s a big risk.”

The president confirmed the call in a tweet Sunday morning, claiming that Mr. Raffensperger “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!”

In a response on Twitter, Mr. Raffensperger wrote: “Respectfully, President Trump: What you’re saying is not true. The truth will come out.”

Michael D. Shear is a White House correspondent. He previously worked at The Washington Post and was a member of their Pulitzer Prize-winning team that covered the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007. @shearm

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