ATLANTA – As election officials in Georgia verified signatures on absentee ballot envelopes in a metropolitan Atlanta county, U.S. President Donald Trump urged a senior investigator to “find the fraud” and said that would make the investigator a national hero.
The December call, described by someone familiar with it and speaking on condition of anonymity to describe the sensitive nature of the discussion, is yet another link in the chain of the extraordinary lobbying campaign. carried out by Trump on state officials as he wished. to overturn the November election results, which he lost to Democrat Joe Biden.
This is one of at least three phone calls, organized in a month between early December and early January, where Trump asked for help from top Georgian officials to overthrow the election – only to be pushed back to every time. Trump lost to Biden in Georgia by 11,779 votes.
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The call to the investigator preceded Trump’s Jan. 2 call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, where he called on election officials to “find” enough votes to undo Biden’s victory in the ‘State. This happened as election officials were checking signatures on absentee ballot envelopes in Cobb County.
The audit, which examined more than 15,000 signatures, found no cases of fraud. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation assisted in carrying out the signature audit.
Trump and his allies have for months been making false statements about Georgia’s signature verification process for postal votes and the November election results. Among other things, they demanded an audit of signature matches.
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The White House made no immediate comment. The call was first reported on Saturday by the Washington Post, which said it was withholding the name of the investigator, who did not respond to requests for comment, due to the risk of threats and harassment directed against electoral officials.
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Various election officials across the country and former Trump attorney general William Barr said there was no widespread fraud in the election. Raffensperger and other Georgian officials have repeatedly challenged Trump’s false statements about the election and said they were conducted freely and fairly.
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In another appeal in early December, Trump urged Georgia Governor Brian Kemp to order a special session of the state legislature to overturn Biden’s victory. Kemp refused.
Trump has repeatedly criticized Raffensperger and Kemp, both Republicans, and others he sees as opposed to canceling his election defeat.
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During last week’s call with Raffensperger, Trump urged the secretary of state to change the certified results.
“All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than what we have, ”Trump said. “Because we won the state.”
Raffensperger said in response: “President Trump, we have had several lawsuits and we have had to respond in court to lawsuits and disputes. We don’t agree that you won. ”
Legal experts said the call raised questions about possible violations of election law by Trump, and several Democrats in the state called for an investigation.
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