President Donald Trump pushed Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” votes to overturn the election results after his loss to President-elect Joe Biden, according to an audio recording of a phone call obtained by CNN and first reported by the Washington Post.
In excerpts of the stunning one-hour phone call Saturday, Trump lambasted his fellow Republican for refusing to falsely say that he won the election in Georgia and repeatedly touted baseless claims of election fraud.
“The people of Georgia are angry, the people of the country are angry. And there’s nothing wrong with saying that, you know, um, that you’ve recalculated,” Trump said in one part of the call. Raffensperger responded, “Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is, the data you have is wrong.”
In another part, 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.”
“You should want to have an accurate election. And you’re a Republican,” Trump said at one point.
“We believe that we do have an accurate election,” Raffensperger said in response, to which Trump replied, “No, no you don’t. … Not even close. You’re off by hundreds of thousands of votes.”
The President also claimed during the call that votes in the state were scanned three times, an allegation Raffensperger rebuffed, saying, “We did an audit of that and we proved conclusively that they were not scanned three times.”
The White House declined to comment to CNN.
CNN has reached out to Raffensperger.
Officials in Raffensperger’s office recorded the call with Trump on Saturday, according to a source who was on the call and had direct knowledge of the conversation. Raffensperger told his advisers he did not want the recording or a transcript of the call released unless Trump attacked him or misrepresented the call, according to the source. Trump tweeted attacking Raffensperger Sunday morning.
The New York Times first reported on who recorded the call and Raffensperger’s instructions on releasing the audio.
The audio recording was reported by the Post several hours after Trump said on Twitter that he had spoken to Raffensperger on the phone in an attempt to convince him to look into unfounded conspiracy theories about the vote in November. According to Trump, Raffensperger refused to do so. In response, Raffensperger cryptically delivered a strong message to the President on Sunday.
“Respectfully, President Trump: What you’re saying is not true. The truth will come out,” the tweet read.
Raffensperger, a Republican and a Trump supporter, has consistently turned back Trump’s claims of voter fraud in Georgia. He has overseen three different recounts of the vote and conducted several other reviews of the process. He recently tasked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation with conducting an audit of the signature match system in Cobb County that determined the system was 99.9% accurate and revealed no evidence of fraud.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, lawyer Cleta Mitchell and other Republican allies of the President were also on the call.
The call represents the latest extraordinary effort by Trump to change the results of the race he lost following weeks of legal and political efforts by the President, his legal team and Republican allies to overturn the free and fair election.
The ask comes just days before Congress will meet to certify Biden’s victory, a traditionally ceremonial exercise on Capitol Hill that will look dramatically different this year as Republicans in both chambers plan to object to the counting of Electoral College votes.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer seized on the call in a tweet Sunday afternoon, suggesting to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas that he and his GOP allies should investigate the President for his actions.
Cruz was among 11 Republican senators who announced Saturday they would support an objection to the Electoral College votes, if one is brought, and propose an election commission to conduct an “emergency 10-day audit” of the election returns in the “disputed states” – despite no credible evidence suggesting widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.
“You want to investigate election fraud? Start with this,” Schumer, a New York Democrat, wrote in a tweet aimed at Cruz that included a link to the Washington Post’s report about the call.
This story has been updated with additional developments.
CNN’s Ryan Nobles contributed to this report.