The Charlotte Observer (Sunday)

Records show pressure by Trump, allies on Arizona officials

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Newly released records show the top Republican­s in Arizona’s largest county dodged calls from Donald Trump and his allies in the aftermath of the 2020 election, as the then-president sought to prevent the certificat­ion of Joe Biden’s victory in key battlegrou­nd states.

The records – including voicemails and text messages – shed light on another state where Trump, his attorneys and others mounted a behind-thescenes pressure campaign on Republican officials overseeing elections. Days before Congress certified Biden’s win on Jan. 6, Trump pressed Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensper­ger to find enough votes to overturn Biden’s win there.

Trump tried to reach Clint Hickman, then the chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisor­s, on Jan. 3, shortly before midnight in Washington and hours after news broke of Trump’s call with Raffensper­ger.

“Hello, sir. This is the White House operator I was calling to let you know that the president’s available to take your call if you’re free,” the White House operator said in a voicemail. “If you could please give us a call back, sir, that’d be great. You have a good evening.”

Hickman told The Arizona Republic, which first received the records from Maricopa County, that he did not return the phone call. He said he presumed Trump would try to pressure him to change election results or discuss election conspiraci­es as he had done with Raffensper­ger.

“I’m not going to tape a president, so I’m not going to talk to a president. I didn’t want to have a very rough call to my home on a Sunday night,” Hickman told the Republic.

Hickman and the rest of the Board of Supervisor­s, which is controlled 4-1 by

Republican­s, have aggressive­ly defended the vote count in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix and 60% of Arizona’s voters. They have maintained the outcome was not affected by fraud or irregulari­ties.

State Senate Republican­s used their subpoena power to take control of all 2.1 million ballots and the machines that counted them. A firm led by a Trump supporter who has shared far-fetched conspiracy theories is overseeing an audit for the Senate GOP.

The most aggressive pressure came from Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward, who tried to convince Republican­s on the board to question the election results, even as the officials tried to instill confidence in the them. At one point, she texted Hickman, “We need you to stop the counting.”

She tried to convince Hickman and Supervisor­s Steve Chucri and Bill Gates to call Trump attorney Sidney Powell, who filed lawsuits around the country alleging the election conspiraci­es. The lawsuits were all thrown out.

The records also include voicemails from Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani trying to reach several of the GOP supervisor­s. Chucri met with Giuliani when he was in Phoenix to air Trump’s baseless fraud theories.

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