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Trump defends ‘perfect’ Georgia phone call as prosecutor requests special grand jury

Former president lashes out at Fulton County probe and amplifies baseless election fraud claims

Alex Woodward
New York
Thursday 20 January 2022 20:13 GMT
Listen: Trump bullies and threatens Georgia secretary of state to 'find 11,780 votes'

Donald Trump insists he “didn’t say anything wrong” on a phone call with Georgia’s top elections official in which the former president appeared to pressure him to “find” votes that would overturn Joe Biden’s definitive victory in the state.

After the chief prosecutor in Fulton County requested a special grand jury in her investigation into his election interference, the former president defended what he called a “perfect” phone call with Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and baselessly suggested that “tens of thousands of votes” were fraudulently cast in the state’s election.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis – who launched a probe nearly one year ago into “coordinated attempts to unlawfully alter the outcome” of the election – requested a special grand jury in her letter to the chief judge of Fulton County’s Superior Court on 20 January, first reported byThe Atlanta Journal Constitution.

“My phone call to the Secretary of State of Georgia was perfect, perhaps even more so than my call with the Ukrainian President, if that’s possible,” the former president said in a statement through his spokesperson.

“I knew there were large numbers of people on the line, including numerous lawyers for both sides,” he said. “Although I assumed the call may have been inappropriately, and perhaps illegally, recorded, I was not informed of that. I didn’t say anything wrong in the call, made while I was president on behalf of the United States of America, to look into the massive voter fraud which took place in Georgia.”

In a taped call with Mr Raffensperger, recordings of which were first obtained by The Washington Post, Mr Trump said: “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have.”

Mr Trump suggested that the secretary of state and and his chief counsel Ryan Germany could be criminally prosecuted if they did not follow through with his claims.

“You know what they did and you’re not reporting it,” the former president said during the call. “You know, that’s a criminal — that’s a criminal offence. And you know, you can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer. That’s a big risk.”

The former president said in his statement on Thursday that the special grand jury should instead investigate “large scale voter fraud that took place in Georgia.”

“No more political witch hunts!” he added.

Mr Trump’s wildly inflated and bogus claims of widespread fraud, conspiracy theories and spurious attempts to undermine the results of the election in states he lost have not held up against multiple recounts, investigations from elections administrators and officials from both parties, in court or elsewhere. Multiple audits and reviews have routinely debunked such claims.

After the former president insisted that hundreds of dead voters cast ballots in the 2020 election, “the State Election Board sent a total of [four] cases of dead voters in November 2020 to the Attorney General,” Mr Raffensperger said last month.

“There has yet to be proof of enough fraud to overturn the 2020 elections. We need to look forward, not waste time relitigating the past,” he said.

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