Donald Trump reportedly tried to telephone a top Georgia election official 18 times since election day - eventually haranguing and harassing him in an hour-long conversation doing which the president asked him to “find” almost 12,000 votes.
As Georgia prepared for two run-off elections that will determine which party controls the US Senate, and as Mr Trump travelled to the state to campaign on behalf of the two Republican candidates, it emerged he had tried to call election official Brad Raffensperger 18 times.
Over the weekend, the Washington Post released a a recording of the conversation in which the president could be heard bullying Mr Raffensperger, a Republican who serves as Georgia’s secretary of state.
Joe Biden won Georgia by less than 12,000 votes, becoming the first Democrat to take the state since Bill Clinton in 1992.
Mr Trump and his supporters denounced the result, as they did in many states, triggering a total of three recounts.
While Mr Trump heaped scorn on Mr Raffensperger and his colleagues, as well as the state’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, many praised the election official, as somebody who was doing their job. Multiple US media reports said Mr Trump had tried to phone the official 18 times since his defeat to Mr Biden.
In the call, Mr Trump can be heard saying to Mr Raffensperger: “The people of Georgia are angry, the people of the country are angry. And there's nothing wrong with saying that, you know, that you've recalculated.”
Mr Raffensperger responded: “Well, Mr President, the challenge that you have is, the data you have is wrong.”
Elsewhere, the president says to the official: “So look, 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 the state….You should want to have an accurate election. And you're a Republican.”
Mr Raffensperger said: “We believe that we do have an accurate election.”
The phone call, which was apparently recorded by both sides, triggered calls from Democrats for the FBI to launch an investigation into the president’s actions.
“As members of Congress and former prosecutors, we believe Donald Trump engaged in solicitation of, or conspiracy to commit, a number of election crimes. We ask you to open an immediate criminal investigation into the president,” congressman Ted Lieu of California and congresswoman Kathleen Rice of New York wrote to FBI director Christopher Wray on Monday.
Speaking on ABC News, Mr Raffensperger did not rule out the possibility that officials may launch an investigation into the call though he pointed out, there may be a conflict of interest for his office to do so.
He said that Mr Trump did most of the talking” on the call, and that he and his team “did most of the listening”.
“But I did want to make my points that the data that he has is just plain wrong,” Mr Raffensperger said. “He had hundreds and hundreds of people he said that were dead that voted. We found two, that's an example of just - he has bad data.”
Asked if he considered it a lawful request when the president asked him, to find votes, he responded: “I'm not a lawyer. All I know is that we're going to follow the law, follow the process. Truth matters, and we've been fighting these rumors for the last two months.”
In the senate run-offs that could not be decided in November, Democrat Jon Ossoff is challenging incumbent Republican David Perdue, while in the second senate contest, Kelly Loeffler, a Republican, is taking on Democrat Raphael Warnock.
The outcome will decide whether Mr Biden starts his presidency with both houses of Congress in Democratic control, or just the House of Representatives.
The White House did not immediately respond to enquiries about whether Mr Trump had tried to call Mr Raffensperger 18 times.
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