Stop the Steal
President Trump called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Saturday afternoon, his 19th call to Raffensperger's office since he lost Georgia — and the White House — to President-elect Joe Biden in November, The New York Times reported Sunday, citing White House switchboard logs. But it was the first time Raffensperger had spoken with Trump directly, the Times reports. Officials in Raffensperger's office recorded the call, with instructions from the secretary of state not to "release a transcript or a recording unless the president attacked state officials or misrepresented what had been discussed."
Trump did just that in a tweet Sunday morning, and within hours, first The Washington Post, then other media organizations, obtained the recording. It showed Trump repeatedly urging Raffensperger and his office's general counsel, Ryan Germany, to "find" enough votes to erase Biden's certified 11,779-vote win in the state. "There's nothing wrong with saying, you know, that you've recalculated" the vote tallies, Trump tells Raffensperger at one point. "I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have."
The Post put some of the most explosive exchanges in a video, but also released a transcript and recording of the entire 65-minute conversation.
"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 asserting he can reverse the results in enough battleground states to remain in office," the Post recaps. "His desperation was perhaps most pronounced during an exchange with Germany, Raffensperger's general counsel, in which he openly begged for validation." Trump also told Germany he has "a nice last name."
Trump did most of the talking, but Raffensperger and Germany politely pushed back, telling Trump his claims are baseless or demonstrably false.
Trump's call "was as outrageous as it was chilling," Dan Balz writes in a Washington Post analysis. "Here was a desperate president alternately begging, pleading, cajoling and, yes, seeming to threaten a state official — and fellow Republican — by asking for a change in the outcome of an election that already had been recounted and then certified." The call's content, he adds, "speaks for itself, and the audio excerpts should be heard by anyone who cares about the integrity of elections in America." You can read the transcript at the Post and listen to the entire call below. Peter Weber