Prosecutors in Fulton County, Georgia, will release a partial grand jury report on Thursday detailing their investigation into Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Like the city of Detroit, also the target of Trump’s false allegations of voter fraud, Fulton County’s population is overwhelmingly black and was a key region for the Biden campaign’s turnout efforts throughout 2020. The increase of the Democratic votes in those regions was enough to upset two states, Georgia and Michigan, that voted for Trump in 2016 – a serious blow to the former president’s fight for the Electoral College.
But it was Republican officials, including Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who were the target of Donald Trump’s overtures in the days following the 2020 election as he desperately tried to change the results. A conference call between the White House, Trump lawyers and Georgia state officials on January 2, 2021 has now become a crucial piece of evidence in the grand jury investigation into Trump and his legal team, after it sent shock waves by the media and political class.
The repercussion of the call was immediate. The audio was published in The Washington Post just one day after it happened, and it would become a key point in the article of impeachment filed by Democrats against Trump later that year.
After the partial grand jury report was released, the representative said The New York Times newspaper that the panel recommended indictments against several individuals. “It’s not a short list,” said Emily Kohrs The New York Times newspaper.
She declined to name who the panel chose for the charges.
Let’s take a look at exactly why the call was so damaging to Trump’s credibility on the issue of his 2020 voter fraud allegations:
An opening monologue
Much like what you’d expect from a phone call with Donald Trump, it started with a long, incoherent soliloquy from the president. Trump spoke for several minutes, barely stopping and immediately diving into conspiracy theories about what allegedly took place in Fulton County.
Thousands of unregistered voters reportedly cast their ballots, he said. Thousands of people registered at vacant addresses supposedly voted. Thousands of out-of-state residents reportedly submitted votes. There were no election observers. There were no police. And, infamously, a woman was allegedly seen on camera “stuffing” a ballot box full of votes – all, presumably, for Mr. Biden.
It was a monologue that could have been ripped straight from one of Trump’s speeches. It only ended when Mark Meadows, the president’s chief of staff, cut him off in hopes of not burdening Raffensperger and his Georgian colleagues with nonsense.
Raffensperger responds to individual allegations
Despite the seemingly incoherent mess of conspiracies thrown at his feet by the president a minute earlier, Raffensperger jumped into the conversation as soon as he had the chance and set about dismantling the falsehoods Trump was spreading.
“I will analyze it point by point,” he told the president. The first he shot down was the conspiracy about allegedly compromised voting machines manufactured by Dominion Voting Systems.
“(We) did a manual retaliation, a 100% retaliation of all ballots and compared that to what the machine said,” Raffensperger told the president. “He presented practically the same results. Then we did the count. We have practically the same results. So I think we could probably take that off the table.
Mr. Trump had no real answer to this; after a moment of huffing, he moved on to other conspiracies. At one point, Trump accused a seemingly random official of “scanning” the ballots three times.
“Mr President, they didn’t put that in – we did an audit of that. It has been conclusively proven that they were not scanned three times,” replied the secretary.
Trump warns Raffensperger: People are angry
In what could be seen as a thinly-veiled threat, Trump at one point in the call warned Raffensperger that his own supporters were extremely upset with the election results.
“(The) people of Georgia are angry and these numbers will be repeated on Monday night along with others that we will have around that time, which are much more substantial still, and the people of Georgia are angry, the people of the country are angry,” Trump told officials, who would be deluged with death threats for months.
He would repeat the potential threat later: “I hate to think what will happen on Monday or Tuesday.”
Trump says local officials were ‘dishonest or incompetent’
While the Trump campaign publicly maintained throughout late 2020 that it wanted investigators to look into allegations of voter fraud that the president and his allies were raising, it became clear at one point during Trump’s call with Raffensperger that this was not the case. necessarily the case.
Confronted with the fact that investigators from the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, as well as the FBI, investigated what happened when a mains burst caused a brief evacuation of a polling place, Trump said his findings do not matter.
“Well, there’s no way they (didn’t find irregularities),” the president said. “Then they are incompetent. They are dishonest or incompetent.”
He continued furiously: “There are only two answers, dishonesty or incompetence. There is no way. Look, there’s no way.”
Trump rages at Raffensperger
When it became clear that the two men differed significantly in their views on the integrity of the Georgia election, Trump took it personally. And he attacked the officer in response.
Told Mr. Raffensperger that he was repeating social media conspiracies, Mr. Trump responded: “No. No, this is not social media. This is the Trump media. It’s not social media. It really isn’t. It’s not social media. I don’t care about social. I couldn’t care less. Social media is great technology. Great technology is on your side. You know, I don’t even know why you have a side because you’re supposed to want an accurate election. And you are a republican.
The President Attacks Stacey Abrams
Despite Abrams losing her own election, Trump was convinced that she was the secret Democratic puppet behind his defeat in Georgia.
“Look, Stacey, in my opinion, Stacey is as dishonest as she looks. She bested you at everything… at everything,” he told Raffensperger.
He went on to explain that he believed a plea deal between Mr. Raffensperger had legalized ballot harvesting in the state. Mr. Raffensperger informed the President that he was mistaken.
I just want to find 11,780 votes
Finally, the most blunt part of Trump’s contact with the secretary arrived. Defeated at every turn by dogged state officials who meticulously debunked every theory and false claim he had raised, Trump told the other conference call participants that he needed state officials to find a reason, any reason, for nearly 12,000 votes. to be added to your total.
“All I want to do is this: I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is another one we have because we won state. And reversing the state is a huge test for our country because, you know, this is just a test that they can admit a mistake or whatever you want to call it. Whether it was a mistake, I don’t know. A lot of people think it wasn’t a mistake. It was much more criminal than that. But it’s a big problem in Georgia, and it’s not a problem that’s going to go away. I mean, you know, it’s not a problem that’s going away.
After Raffensperger responded, telling the president that they had looked into his claims, he tried his luck again.
“So what? So what are we going to do here, guys? I just need 11,000 votes. Guys, I need 11,000 votes. Give me a break. You know, we already have plenty of that, or we can go on.”
The call declined from there; Mr. Trump would raise a false claim, and Mr. Raffensperger would take it down. Rinse, repeat. A lawyer for Trump pressed officials on whether the matters had actually been investigated, while outside counsel for Raffensperger’s office responded that they would sit down with Trump’s team and explain precisely why their numbers were wrong.
one last attack
When it became clear that the call was going nowhere, Trump launched a final bitter attack on the assembled officials and warned them that they were costing Republicans the upcoming runoff of US Senate elections. Georgia’s two seats in the US Senate would fall to the Democrats.
“You should meet tomorrow because there’s a big election, an election coming up and because of what you did to the president, you know, the people of Georgia know this was a sham,” Trump raged. And because of what you did to the president, a lot of people are not going to vote and a lot of republicans are going to downvote because they hate what you did to the president. OK?”
“(You) would be respected … if this could be resolved before the election,” added the president. “I’ll tell you, it’s going to have a big impact on Tuesday if you don’t get this resolved fast.”
Finally, the call ended minutes later. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows encouraged lawyers for the two groups to meet and discuss the results, thus concluding one of the most shocking moments of the entire Trump administration.