US President Donald Trump has been recorded telling Georgia’s top election official to “find” enough votes to overturn the 2020 US presidential result.
“I just want to find 11,780 votes,” Trump told Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in a recording released by the Washington Post. Raffensperger is heard replying that Georgia’s results were correct.
In the excerpts released by Washington Post, Trump can be heard alternately cajoling and pressurising Georgia’s secretary of state.
He insisted that he had won the election in Georgia and told Raffensperger that there was “nothing wrong with saying you have recalculated”.
Raffensperger responded by saying: “The challenge you have Mr President is that the data you have is wrong.”
Later in the call Trump said the rumour was that ballots had been shredded and voting machinery had been removed from Fulton County in the state – a charge Raffensperger’s lawyer said was not the case.
The president then threatened the official with possible legal consequences.
“You know what they did and you’re not reporting it. That’s a criminal offence. You can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer,” Trump said.
He then called for the extra 11,780 votes – which would have given him a total of 2,473,634 votes in the state, one more than Biden, who received 2,473,633 votes.
He told Raffensperger he should re-examine the result in the state.
“You can re-examine it, but re-examine it with people who want to find answers, not people who don’t want to find answers,” he said.
“Mr President, you have people who submit information and we have our people that submit information and then it comes before the court and the court has to make a determination,” Raffensperger replied. “We have to stand by our numbers, we believe our numbers are right.”
On Sunday Trump tweeted that Raffensperger had not given details of the fraud the president alleges. “He has no clue!” the president tweeted.
Raffensperger tweeted back: “Respectfully, President Trump: What you’re saying is not true. The truth will come out.”
Joe Biden won Georgia alongside other swing states, winning 306 electoral college votes to Trump’s 232. Since the 3 November vote, Trump has been alleging widespread electoral fraud without providing any evidence.
All 50 states have certified the election result, some after recounts and legal appeals. So far, US courts have rejected 60 challenges to Biden’s win. Congress is due to formally approve the election result on 6 January.
Biden, a Democrat, is due to be inaugurated as president on 20 January. Voters in Georgia are due to vote again on Tuesday to elect two senators for the state. The result could determine the balance of power in the Senate.
If the two Democrat contenders win, then there will be equal numbers of Republican and Democratic senators, and Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice-president-elect, will have the deciding vote.
Biden’s Democrats already control the lower House of Representatives.