President Donald Trump pressures Georgia top election official to overturn Joe Biden victory
President Donald Trump, in an extraordinary phone call this weekend, pressured Georgia’s Republican secretary of state to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state by finding votes to shift the count in his favor, according to audio obtained by NBC News. CNBC’s Eamon Javers reports. For access to live and exclusive video from CNBC subscribe to CNBC PRO: https://cnb.cx/2NGeIvi
President Donald Trump, in an extraordinary phone call this weekend, pressured Georgia’s Republican secretary of state to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state by finding votes to shift the count in his favor, according to audio obtained by NBC News.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger resisted pressure from Trump to change Georgia’s election results even as the president made veiled threats about potential criminal prosecution if he was refused. The call took place Saturday.
Trump, who has refused to concede the election, said during the call that he wanted “to find 11,780 votes” to change the result in Georgia.
He told Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, that Georgia’s vote count was off by hundreds of thousand of votes and suggested that the secretary of state announce he had recalculated the numbers to show a Trump victory.
“Well Mr. President, the challenge that you have is the data that you have is wrong,” Raffensberger responded, according to the recording.
Raffensperger and the secretary’s general counsel, attorney Ryan Germany, also pushed back on Trump’s assertions that ballots had been shredded or that the company Dominion had removed parts of voting machines in Georgia that would show more Republican votes.
The contents of the phone call were first reported by The Washington Post.
Trump referenced the Saturday phone call in a Sunday morning tweet, saying that Raffensperger could not answer his questions about alleged voter fraud and saying “he has no clue.” Raffensperger responded on Twitter, writing, “What you’re saying is not true. The truth will come out.”
Bob Bauer, a senior adviser to President-elect Biden, slammed Trump’s actions in a statement on Sunday.
“We now have irrefutable proof of a president pressuring and threatening an official of his own party to get him to rescind a state’s lawful, certified vote count and fabricate another in its place,” Bauer said. “It captures the whole, disgraceful story about Donald Trump’s assault on American democracy.”
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-IL, said in a statement that the phone call warranted a criminal investigation.
“President Trump’s recorded conversation with Georgia Secretary of State Raffensperger is more than a pathetic, rambling, delusional rant. His disgraceful effort to intimidate an elected official into deliberately changing and misrepresenting the legally confirmed vote totals in his state strikes at the heart of our democracy and merits nothing less than a criminal investigation,” the statement said.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., condemned Trump’s actions as “despicable abuses of power” that are potentially impeachable.
“If it’s potentially criminal, then it’s potentially impeachable. And even in the absence of a crime it’s potentially impeachable,” Schiff told reporters Sunday.
Justin Levitt, an election law expert and professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles who was formerly a Department of Justice official, said he believes Trump’s conduct on the call would be a violation of several laws if a prosecutor could prove the president knew that there were not actually thousands of uncounted ballots that would flip the election.
Those criminal violations could include a conspiracy to violate a federal election rights law, which has been used to prosecute voter fraud in the past, and breaking Georgia state law regarding solicitation of election fraud, he said.
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