As election officials in Georgia verified signatures on mail-in ballot envelopes in a metro Atlanta county, President Donald Trump pressured the senior investigator to “find the fraud” and said that that would make the investigator a national hero.
The December call, described by someone familiar with him who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the sensitive nature of the discussion, preceded Trump’s January 2 call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger where he called on election officials to “find” enough votes to undo Joe Biden’s victory in the state’s presidential election.
The call to the investigator came 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, which Trump lost to Biden in Georgia by around 12,000 votes. Among other things, they demanded an audit of signature matches.
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.
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 election officials in Georgia have repeatedly challenged Trump’s bogus allegations about the election and said they were conducted freely and fairly.
Trump made at least three phone calls with Georgian officials seeking to overturn election results before Congress accepted the victory of Biden’s constituency early Thursday – hours after a violent mob of pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol.
In an appeal in early December, Trump urged Georgia Governor Brian Kemp to order a special session of the state legislature to reverse 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.