Chicago Tribune (Sunday)

Trump pres­sured Ga. in­ves­ti­ga­tor to ‘find the fraud’ in De­cem­ber call

- By Ben Nadler US Elections · U.S. News · US Politics · White-collar Crime · Politics · Elections · Crime · Donald Trump · Georgia · Atlanta · Democratic Party (United States) · Joe Biden · FBI · Executive Office of the President of the United States · White House · Washington · United States of America · U.S. government · Brad Raffensperger · Cobb County · Cobb, Georgia

ATLANTA— While elec­tion of­fi­cials in Ge­or­gia were ver­i­fy­ing sig­na­tures on ab­sen­tee bal­lot en­velopes in one metro-Atlanta county, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump pressed a lead in­ves­ti­ga­tor to “findt he fraud” and­said it would make the in­ves­ti­ga­tor a na­tional hero.

The De­cem­ber call, de­scribed by aper­son fa­mil­iar with it who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymity in or­der to de­scribe the sen­si­tive na­ture of the dis­cus­sion, is yet an­other link in the chain of the ex­tra­or­di­nary pres­sure cam­paign waged by Trump on state of­fi­cials as he sought to over­turn the re­sults of the Novem­ber elec­tion, which he lost to Demo­crat Joe Bi­den.

It is one of at least three phone calls, held over the course of a month be­tween early De­cem­ber and early Jan­uary, where Trump sought help from high-level Ge­or­gia of­fi­cials in sub­vert­ing the elec­tion— only to be re­buffed each time. Trump lost to Bi­den in Ge­or­gia by 11,779 votes.

The call to the in­ves­ti­ga­tor pre­ceded Trump’s Jan. 2 call to Ge­or­gia Sec­re­tary of State Brad Raf­fensperger where he asked elec­tion of­fi­cials to“find” enough votes to over­turn Bi­den’s win in the state. It oc­curred as elec­tion of­fi­cials were con­duct­ing an au­dit of sig­na­tures on ab­sen­tee bal­lot en­velopes in Cobb County.

The au­dit, which re­viewed more than 15,000 sig­na­tures, found no cases of fraud. The Ge­or­gia Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion helped con­duct the sig­na­ture au­dit.

Trump and his al­lies have for months made false claims about Ge­or­gia’s sig­na­ture ver­i­fi­ca­tion process for ab­sen­tee bal­lots and about the re­sults of the Novem­ber elec­tion.

The White House had no im­me­di­ate com­ment. The call was first re­ported Satur­day by The Washington Post, which said it­was with­hold­ing the name of the in­ves­ti­ga­tor, who did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment, be­cause of the risk of threats and ha­rass­ment di­rected at elec­tion of­fi­cials.

The new de­tails about the pres­i­dent’s pres­sure cam­paign come as House Democrats an­nounced plans to in­tro­duce an ar­ti­cle of im­peach­ment against the pres­i­dent for “will­fully in­cit­ing vi­o­lence against the gov­ern­ment of the United States,” a ref­er­ence to the pro-Trump mob that at­tacked the U.S. Capi­tol on Wed­nes­day. Trump is also fac­ing grow­ing calls to re­sign, while his Cabi­net is un­der­pres­sure to in­voke the 25 th Amend­ment to re­move him from of­fice.

Dur­ing an­other call in early De­cem­ber, Trump pressed Ge­or­gia Gov. Brian Kemp to or­der a spe­cial ses­sion of the state leg­is­la­ture to sub­vert Bi­den’s vic­tory. Kemp re­fused.

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