On Saturday Donald Trump urged Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to "find votes" and help him overturn the state's presidential election results in a stunning hour-long phone call that was taped. Unfortunately for Trump,The Washington Post. obtained and published the tape on Sunday.
The shocking development occured as Trump continues to seek avenues to block certification of the election by Congress so that he can somehow retain power.
The Post reports that Trump "alternately berated Raffensperger, tried to flatter him, begged him to act and threatened him with vague criminal consequences if the secretary of state refused to pursue his false claims."
With White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, Trump lawyer Cleta Mitchell, other Trump associates, and Georgia state attorney Ryan Germany on the line, Trump told the state official to announce publicly that he had "recalculated" the November vote -- a clear demand to commit election fraud. (Any such demand or "solicitation" is a felony in the state of Georgia.)
Supported by his counsel Germany, Raffensperger consistently rejected a series of outlandish claims by Trump about fraudulent ballots and tampered Dominion Voting Systems machines.
"The people of Georgia are angry, the people of the country are angry," Trump told him on the tape. "And there's nothing wrong with saying, you know, that you've recalculated."
Raffensperger retorted: "Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is, the data you have is wrong."
At another moment Trump said: "So look. 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." Although Trump insistently blustered that he had won the state by "hundreds of thousands of votes," he later adopted a wheedling tone: "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."
But the president threatened Raffensperger more than once, warning that he and his counsel would be committing a "criminal offense"and taking "a big risk" if they failed to endorse Trump's false claims. Neither Meadows nor Mitchell uttered any objection to Trump's unlawful demands, and in fact Meadows chimed in with a suggestion that Raffensperger "cooperate" with the president.
"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."
Like Trump's infamous call to the Ukrainian president last year, this brazen attempt to force a public official to falsify election results is not just a crime -- actually a series of crimes -- but an impeachable act. There just isn't enough time left in Trump's term to impeach him again. But now every Republican who backs Trump's "election fraud" campaign knows exactly how hollow, fraudulent, and fascistic it is.
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