Donald Trump pressured Georgia’s Republican secretary of state to “find” enough votes to overturn Joe Biden’s win in the state’s presidential election, repeatedly citing disproven claims of fraud and raising the prospect of “criminal offense” if officials did not change the vote count, according to a recording of the conversation obtained by the AP.
The staggering conversation was the latest step in an unprecedented effort by an American president to reverse the outcome of a free and fair election that he lost, report Jeff Amy, Darlene Superville and Kate Brumback.
In the phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Saturday, Trump, who has refused to accept his loss to president-elect Biden, repeatedly argued that Raffensperger could change the certified results.
“All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” Trump said. “Because we won the state,” he falsely claims.
Georgia counted its votes three times before certifying Biden’s win by a 11,779 margin, Raffensperger noted: “President Trump, we’ve had several lawsuits, and we’ve had to respond in court to the lawsuits and the contentions. We don’t agree that you have won.”
Fact check: Trump’s made-up claims of fake Georgia votes. Trump asserted a dizzying array of fuzzy accounting and outright false claims in the phone call to Georgia’s secretary of state. That’s according to an AP Fact Check, which found Trump fabricated a slew of votes that he said should’ve been counted in his favor. Hope Yen, Jeff Amy and Mike Balsamo report.
Electoral College: The unprecedented Republican effort to try to overturn the presidential election is being condemned by current and former GOP officials. They are warning that the effort to sow doubt about Biden’s victory and keep Trump in office is undermining Americans’ faith in democracy. Trump has enlisted support from a dozen Republican senators and up to 100 House Republicans to challenge the Electoral College vote, Lisa Mascaro and Mary Claire Jalonick report.
Defense Secretaries: In an extraordinary rebuke of Trump, all 10 living former U.S. secretaries of defense have joined in cautioning against any attempt to use the military to back overturning November’s presidential election. The former Pentagon chiefs, both Republicans and Democrats, put their names to an opinion article that says the time for questioning the results of the election has passed. And they say that attempting to involve the military in resolving election disputes would take the county “into dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory.” Robert Burns reports.
Washington’s Pivotal Week: The first full week of the new year is shaping up to be one of the biggest of Biden’s presidency. And he hasn’t even taken office yet. Senate runoff elections in Georgia on Tuesday may shape his administration. Congress on Wednesday will be tasked with certifying the presidential election’s results, which some Republicans say they won’t accept because of Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud. That same day, protesters championed by Trump have promised to flood Washington. Biden has largely shrugged off GOP promises to oppose certification of his victory. Will Weissert reports as Washington, and the nation, braces for an intense opening to a critical year.
Trump’s Base: Their candidate may have lost the election, but many of Trump’s supporters have no intention of fading away. After spending weeks amplifying Trump’s unfounded claims that the November election was rigged against him, many in his loyal base are eagerly awaiting his next ventures. That includes a potential presidential run four years from now. In the meantime, Trump’s loyal fans present a challenge for Biden as he seeks to govern a bitterly divided country. Many of them not only disagree with Biden’s policies, but view him as an illegitimate president who won only because of mass election fraud, which did not actually occur. Jill Colvin reports.
Georgia Trump Effect: For more than four years, Trump has dominated the Republican Party and American politics. Now Georgia gets to decide what comes next. Twin Senate runoffs, just 15 days before Trump leaves office, will not only determine which party controls the Senate but also offer the first clues about how long Trump can maintain his grip on the nation’s political affairs once he loses the White House megaphone. Democrats are looking to prove Biden’s win was more than just a backlash to Trump. Bill Barrow reports. Both Trump and Biden will be in the state today.
Georgia Church: Ebenezer Baptist Church, the historic congregation in the heart of Atlanta where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached, sits at the intersection of national politics and the culture war. The church’s senior pastor, the Rev. Raphael Warnock, is seeking election to the U.S. Senate, where bitter partisanship has blunted the federal response to the pandemic and calls for criminal justice reform. The runoff election will decide if Democrats get control of Congress. Ebenezer’s members hope their church remains a place where they can always receive spiritual fuel for the challenges ahead, Aaron Morrison reports from Atlanta.