Aug 14, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Flashback: The call that got Trump in trouble in Georgia

A recording of former President Trump talking to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger played during a Jan. 6 Select Committee hearing in October 2022.

A recording of former President Trump talking to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger played during a Jan. 6 Select Committee hearing in October 2022. Photo: Alex Wong/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

During a call on Jan. 2, 2021, former President Trump asked Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) to help him "find 11,780 votes" and overturn the state's 2020 election results in his favor.

Why it matters: The call — which took place 44 days after Joe Biden was projected victor in Georgia — helped spark the opening of a criminal investigation by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.

Flashback: In the hourlong phone call first published by the Washington Post, Trump repeatedly declared he had won the state while at the same time asking Raffensperger to help him find enough votes to overturn Biden's victory.

"All I want to do is this: I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won this state, and flipping the state is a great testament to the country," Trump said. "I only need 11,000 votes. Fellas, I need 11,000 votes. Give me a break." "It's just not possible to have lost Georgia. It's not possible," Trump said.
  • Trump, without evidence, claimed multiple times throughout the call that election fraud occurred in Fulton County, which is Georgia's most populous county and has the state's largest number of Black residents.

Of note: Trump implied that Raffensperger or the state government would face legal trouble if the secretary did not help overturn the election results.

"The ballots are corrupt, which is totally illegal," Trump said. "It's more illegal for you than it is for them, because you know what they did and you're not reporting it. That's a criminal offense, and you can't let that happen. That's a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer." "So, tell me, Brad, what are we going to do? We won the election, and it's not fair to take it away from us like this. And it's going to be costly, in many ways."
  • Trump threatened that Raffensperger would face electoral repercussions if he did not comply with his demands.
"The only people who like you are people who will never vote for you, you know that, right Brad?" Trump said.

Between the lines: Before the call, Georgia election officials had tabulated the state's results and confirmed Biden's victory three times, including once by hand — and once after a recount requested by Trump's campaign.

After the call, Trump claimed on social media that Raffensperger was "unwilling, or unable," to answer questions regarding election fraud conspiracy theories, even though in the call Raffensperger repeatedly said the state did not have evidence of widespread voter fraud but was continuing its investigation.

  • "Respectfully, President Trump: What you're saying is not true. The truth will come out," Raffensperger posted in response to Trump.

Of note: This was not the only call Trump had with other Republican Georgia officials in the wake of 2020, seeking help in reversing the state's results.

  • He called state Attorney General Chris Carr asking him to support a lawsuit trying to overturn the state's results. Carr's office went on to successfully defend the state's election system in multiple lawsuits from Trump and his allies.
  • He also called Gov. Brian Kemp and late state House Speaker David Ralston — in both instances to pressure them into convening a special legislative session to overturn the results. Neither complied.

The big picture: The yearslong Fulton County investigation that followed has involved dozens of witnesses, including Trump's onetime personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, former national security advisor Michael Flynn and former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

  • A special investigative grand jury report released earlier this year recommended perjury charges for at least one witness and concluded that no widespread fraud took place in Georgia.

Go deeper: Georgia sheriff on Trump probe: "We'll have a mugshot ready for you"

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