WASHINGTON — Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Monday that he has never thought it was appropriate to speak to President Donald Trump about the 2020 election results and that the conversations Trump has had with him and other elections officials could pose a conflict of interest that warrants investigating.
When asked by NBC News about the phone call he and the president had on Saturday, Raffensperger said he was concerned about talking directly with the president because of a lawsuit Trump is pursuing against the governor and secretary of state.
“He’s coming up short on the election, he won’t be re-elected, and I know that he’s not pleased with how the results went in other states,” Raffensperger told NBC. “I’m very confident in the results we have here in Georgia. And that’s the cold hard truth.”
Ultimately, the call happened after White House staff pushed for it, said Raffensperger. While he said he didn’t personally record the call and doesn’t know who released it, he said he is glad it was made public after Trump’s tweet mischaracterizing the conversation.
“You can’t keep on taking shots from people and people keep putting out stuff that’s not true,” he said. “And we’re gonna respond, we’re going to respond forcefully sometimes with the facts. If people can’t handle the facts, I’m sorry, but those are the facts.
Georgia election official Gabriel Sterling, who manages the state’s voting systems, attempted once again to debunk the internet conspiracy theories that Trump raised in his phone call during a press conference Monday where he went through Trump’s claims one by one.
Contrary to claims by Trump and his allies that thousands of votes were cast by felons, dead people, teenagers or unregistered voters, Sterling said they have found just two possible incidents of people who died before the election casting ballots and 74 potential felons voting. All 76 cases remain remain under investigation.
“We see nothing in our investigations of any of these data claims that shows nearly enough ballots to change the outcome,” Sterling said.
He also debunked a range of other false claims based on misleading videos that have been promoted by Trump’s lawyers accusing Georgia election workers of doctoring the ballot count. He said no ballots were shred and no Dominion voting machines had parts changed. He said he screamed at his computer when he heard some of Trump’s claims on the call with the secretary of state.
“Again, all of this is easily provably false and yet the president persists and by doing so undermines Georgians faith in the election system, especially Republican Georgians, in this case, which is important because we have a big election coming up tomorrow,” said Sterling, who describes himself as a Republican and voted for Trump in November.
Raffensperger received the call Saturday afternoon after the White House switchboard had made 18 attempts to have him speak with Trump over the two months since the general election, according to a Georgia Republican familiar with the call.
Officials in Raffensperger’s office recorded the call, and he made clear to his advisers that he did not want a transcript or an audio recording released unless Trump attacked Georgia officials or misrepresented the conversation, according to the Georgia Republican. Before the audio leaked, Trump attacked Raffensperger on Twitter, saying that they had a call and that the secretary of state was “unwilling, or unable” to answer his questions, to which Raffensperger responded, “The truth will come out.”
Asked Monday if he felt any pressure when Trump told him to find the votes to overturn Biden’s victory in Georgia, Raffensperger told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, “No, I, we have to follow the process, follow the law. Everything we’ve done for the last 12 months follows the constitution of the state of Georgia, follows the United States Constitution, follows state law.”
In response to the phone call, whose audio surfaced Sunday, David Worley, a Democratic member of Georgia’s state election board, which Raffensperger chairs, asked him to open an investigation.
Asked if he would do so, Raffenperger said: “I believe that because I had a conversation with the president, also he had a conversation with our chief investigator after we did the signature match audit of Cobb County last week, there may be a conflict of interest, I understand, that the Fulton County district attorney wants to look at. Maybe that’s the appropriate venue for it to go,” Raffensperger said.
Two House Democrats have sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray requesting an investigation into Trump over the call.
As for whether he would vote for Trump again, Raffensperger said he has always supported Republicans and “probably always will,” but that Trump isn’t on the 2024 ballot, “so we’ll just have to wait and see what would happen.”
Julia Jester contributed.