Western Morning News

Tape reveals Trump’s plea to election official

- ASSOCIATED PRESS REPORTERS wmnnewsdes­k@reachplc.com

UNITED STATES President Donald Trump has been heard on tape pleading with Georgia’s election chief to overturn Joe Biden’s win in the state, suggesting in a telephone call that the official “find” enough votes to hand Mr Trump the victory.

The phone call with secretary of state Brad Raffensper­ger last Saturday was the latest step in an unpreceden­ted effort by a sitting American president to reverse the outcome of a free and fair election that he lost.

The president, who has refused to accept his loss to President-elect Mr Biden, repeatedly argued that Mr Raffensper­ger could change the certified results in Georgia.

“All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” Mr Trump said. “Because we won the state.”

Georgia counted its votes three times before certifying Mr Biden’s win by an 11,779 margin. Mr Raffensper­ger noted: “President Trump, we’ve had several lawsuits, and we’ve had to respond in court to the lawsuits and the contention­s. We don’t agree that you have won.”

Audio snippets of the conversati­on were first posted online by The Washington Post. The Associated Press obtained the full audio of Mr Trump’s conversati­on with Georgia officials from a person on the call.

Mr Trump’s renewed interventi­on and the persistent and unfounded claims of fraud come nearly two weeks before he leaves office and two days before twin run-off elections in Georgia that will determine political control of the US Senate.

The president used the hour-long conversati­on to tick through a list of claims about the election in Georgia, including that hundreds of thousands of ballots mysterious­ly appeared in Fulton County, which includes Atlanta. Officials have said there is no evidence of that happening.

The Georgia officials on the call are heard repeatedly pushing back against the president’s assertions, telling him that he is relying on debunked theories and, in one case, selectivel­y edited video. At another point in the conversati­on, Mr Trump appeared to threaten Mr Raffensper­ger and Ryan Germany, the secretary of state’s legal counsel, by suggesting both could be criminally liable if they failed to find that thousands of ballots in Fulton County had been illegally destroyed. There is no evidence to support Mr Trump’s claim.

“That’s a criminal offence,” Mr Trump says, “and you can’t let that happen.”

Others on the call included Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, and lawyers assisting Mr Trump, including Washington DC lawyer Cleta Mitchell.

Democrats and a few Republican­s condemned Mr Trump’s actions, while at least one Democrat urged a criminal investigat­ion. Legal experts said Mr Trump’s behaviour raised questions about possible election law violations.

One of Mr Biden’s senior advisers, Bob Bauer, said, in reference to the recording: “It captures the whole, disgracefu­l story about Donald Trump’s assault on American democracy.”

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