The Georgia phone call shows Trump's desperation has sunk to appalling new depths
On Jan. 6, Congress will meet for a joint session to certify the Electoral College results. Once that is done, there is really no room for Republicans to continue contesting President-elect Joe Biden's victory. But President Trump has made it clear he's not going out quietly. He's been seeking ways to overturn or discredit the election results since Biden's win was declared on Nov. 7, but on Sunday, The Washington Post reported on a stunning last-ditch effort by Trump to get Georgia officials to baselessly overturn the results. The Post released audio of an hour-long phone call between Trump and Georgia Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which Trump can be heard directly asking Raffensperger to "find" over 11,000 ballots — enough to flip Georgia in Trump's favor. Now, some are once again calling for Trump to be impeached.
Biden won Georgia — the first Democrat to do so since 1992. But Trump refuses to accept his loss there. Per the transcript released Sunday by the Post, Trump told Raffensperger that "the people of Georgia are angry, the people in the country are very angry. And there's nothing wrong with saying, you know, that you've recalculated." He also asked Raffensperger about a "rumor" that ballots for Trump were "shredded" in Fulton County — home to Atlanta, a diverse and heavily Democratic-leaning city. Then, Trump added, "All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state."
Several outlets have reported that this was actually Trump's 19th attempt to call Raffensperger and pressure him directly about the election. But throughout the conversation, Raffensperger and his office's general counsel, who was also on the call, disputed Trump's claims. They also refused to "find" the votes that Trump so desperately wants. At one point, Raffensperger told Trump, "Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is, the data you have is wrong."
As expected, Trump also went into the call with some of his allies, including White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and conservative lawyer Cleta Mitchell. The Post reported that in a statement, Mitchell, whose work with Trump's efforts to overturn the election had not been known prior to the audio's release, said Raffensperger's office "has made many statements over the past two months that are simply not correct and everyone involved with the efforts on behalf of the president’s election challenge has said the same thing: Show us your records on which you rely to make these statements that our numbers are wrong.”
Trump took to Twitter to lambast Raffensperger further, writing that Raffensperger "was unwilling, or unable, to answer questions such as the 'ballots under the table' scam, ballot destruction, out of state 'voters', dead voters, and more. He has no clue!" Again, there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Georgia or anywhere else. In fact the irony of Trump alleging voter fraud in Georgia through deceased voters is thick given that, last month in Pennsylvania, another state that Trump lost, officials uncovered a case of voter fraud where a man cast a vote in a deceased woman's name. The vote, however, was for Trump.
In response to Trump's tweets, Raffensperger simply replied, "Respectfully, President Trump: What you're saying is not true. The truth will come out."
While Trump has been trying to overturn election results for nearly two months, this audio is the first time that Trump can be heard directly pressuring a state official. Democratic lawmakers are pointing out that this is a serious escalation. Axios reported that Vice President-elect Kamala Harris told reporters the call was a "bald-faced, bold abuse of power by the president", while New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said, "I absolutely think it's an impeachable offense, and if it was up to me, there would be articles on the floor quite quickly."
Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar (Minn.) took to Twitter to echo Ocasio-Cortez. "This is clearly an impeachable offense," she wrote, "and I believe there is nothing under the law giving Trump immunity from criminal process and indictment for this conduct. The law and order party is a farce."
Calls for Trump to be impeached were further backed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonpartisan watchdog group. Business Insider reported that Noah Bookbinder, CREW's executive director, said in a statement, ""While the logistics of holding impeachment proceedings in the final two weeks of a presidency are admittedly hard to pull off, if this isn't impeachable conduct, then literally nothing is."