New audio obtained by The Wall Street Journal shows then-President Trump pressuring the lead investigator in last year’s Georgia mail-in ballot audit to find fraud during a December phone call.
The Journal reported Wednesday that Trump repeatedly and incorrectly stated during the six-minute phone call with chief investigator Frances Watson that he and not President Biden had won the election in Georgia, saying, “Something bad happened.”
“When the right answer comes out, you’ll be praised,” Trump told Watson.
“I can assure you that our team and the [Georgia Bureau of Investigation], that we are only interested in the truth and finding the information that is based on the facts,” Watson replied, according to the Journal.
Trump’s representatives did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment.
Georgia officials have opened a criminal investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the November election there, one of several states he lost where he has made unfounded claims of widespread fraud.
His phone call with Watson could play into that probe.
Watson expressed surprise that Trump had called her, the Journal reported.
“I do know that you are a very busy, very important man, and I am very honored that you called,” she said. “And quite frankly I’m shocked that you would take time to do that, but I am very appreciative.”
Trump reportedly told Watson that she had at the time the most important job in the country and urged her to inspect signatures going back multiple years. He also reportedly suggested that she look at Fulton County, Georgia’s most populous county, which encompasses most of Atlanta and voted for Biden, even though she was tasked with focusing on Cobb County.
“If you can get to Fulton, you are going to find things that are going to be unbelievable,” he said.
The Journal reported that Trump did not offer any evidence during the call, at one point saying that his loss in Georgia “never made sense, and, you know, they dropped ballots. They dropped all these ballots. Stacey Abrams, really, really terrible.”
Before he left office, Trump faced bipartisan criticism for a separate January phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) in which he encouraged the top elections official to “find” more than 11,000 ballots to overturn the vote in his favor.
“The people of Georgia are angry. The people in the country are angry. And there’s nothing wrong with saying, you know, that you’ve recalculated,” Trump told Raffensperger in that call, which was first reported by The Washington Post.
Raffensperger’s office said in a statement to the Journal that the newly released recording with Watson shows officials followed the law to the letter.
“This phone call is just one more example of how Secretary Raffensperger’s office’s public comments also reflect what was said in one-on-one conversations: We would follow the law, count every legal vote and investigate any allegations of fraud. That’s exactly what we did, and how we arrived at the accurate final vote tally,” Raffensperger’s spokesman Ari Schaffer said.
Trump, who left office on Jan. 20, has yet to say that the Nov. 3 election was free and fair.
Via The Hill