Trump Fishes for Votes in Georgia as GOP Senators Fight Over Election Certification
President Donald Trump is making fools of congressional Republicans who continue to back him. Days after a dozen senators said they would reject the 2020 presidential election results over allegedly sincere concerns about fraud, Trump is all but openly asking people to commit fraud to throw the election to him.
Insisting—against all evidence—that he actually beat President-elect Joe Biden in Georgia, Trump asked state officials to help him find the votes he would need to make it official. “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,” Trump said on a Saturday phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and others. “So what are we going to do here, folks? I only need 11,000 votes. Fellas, I need 11,000 votes. Give me a break.”
On the call, Trump spins a number of disproved or unsubstantiated theories about voter fraud, including that “dead people voted,” “thousands and thousands, who went to the voting place on Nov. 3, were told they couldn’t vote,” out-of-state voters voted in Georgia, ballots for Biden were scanned three times, and some ballots were shredded.
The trouble: They don’t quite have the evidence yet to show it.
“What I’m hopeful for is there are some way that we can, we can find some kind of agreement to, to, to look at this a little bit more fully,” White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said on the call.
Trump also “issued a vague threat to both Raffensperger and Ryan Germany, the secretary of state’s general counsel, suggesting that if they don’t find that thousands of ballots in Fulton County have been illegally destroyed to block investigators — an allegation for which there is no evidence — they would be subject to criminal liability,” notes The Washington Post.
But throughout the hour-long call, Raffensperger and Germany pushed back against Trump’s claims of specific election fraud tactics and the general idea that the Georgia results are invalid. “We believe that we do have an accurate election,” said Raffensperger, a Republican.
You can read a full transcript of the call here.
Outrageously but unsurprisingly, some prominent Republicans have been faulting not Trump for making this call, but whoever recorded and leaked it. “A man does not release a private conversation he has with anyone,” tweeted television host Jesse Kelly. “You don’t repeat things said to you privately. That’s simple man code.”
But by and large, people across the political spectrum are calling this for what it is: yet another instance of Trump thinking he’s above the law and normal democratic procedures, yet more corruption and bad judgement, and the sort of thing that would provoke a much different result during normal times.
“This tape of the Trump phone call is amazing. Unless you’re drunk on the Kool Aid, it’s glaringly obvious they just want to cheat,” writes longtime conservative pundit Jonah Goldberg, now editor in chief of The Dispatch. “That’s it. Nothing clever. Nothing about patriotism or some higher calling. They’re just trying to cheat.”
“We do get numb to outrageous stuff, so it’s important to take a minute and shake four years of normalized criminous un-American morally treasonous behavior out of your head and recognize this for the lawless lowlife thuggery that it is — historically bad behavior by bad people,” tweeted constitutional lawyer Ken White, aka Popehat.
“In any other conceivable moment in US history, this tape would result in the leadership of both parties demanding the immediate resignation of the President of the United States,” suggested veteran journalist Carl Bernstein.
Trump’s little chat comes just as a gaggle of GOP lawmakers is going all in on the president’s election fraud claims. Last week, a dozen senators—including Sens. Ted Cruz (R–Tx.) and Josh Hawley (R–Mo.)—said they would not vote to certify the 2020 election results when Congress is asked to do so on January 6.