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Former President Donald Trump has described his January 2021 phone call with Georgia election officials as "perfect."
Prosecutors may use another phrase: evidence of a crime.
Trump, who refused to accept his loss in Georgia and other states after the 2020 presidential election, repeatedly pushed back against the Georgia officials’ assurances that the state’s election results were accurate.
"No, no you don’t. No, no you don’t," Trump told Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. "You don’t have, you don’t have. Not even close."
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who started investigating the case in February 2021, has signaled that a grand jury indictment could come between July 31 and Aug. 18. Grand jurors will likely hear a wide range of evidence, including the phone call with state election officials, other communications he had with state officials, and efforts by Trump and his allies to arrange a fake slate of electors.
Trump’s hourlong phone call with Raffensperger offers one of the most detailed pieces of evidence into his thinking after he lost the election and sought to overturn the results. Here are the highlights.
At 3 p.m. Jan. 2, 2021, Trump was part of an hourlong phone call with Georgia election officials including Raffensperger, office General Counsel Ryan Germany and Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs.
Trump was joined by several lawyers and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
Trump’s side of the call included many election conspiracy theories.
"We won Georgia easily," Trump said. "We won it by hundreds of thousands of votes."
Trump said "close to 5,000" dead people voted. State officials told Trump they found two such cases. (Later they found two more.)
Trump also repeated a ridiculous falsehood alleging the secret counting of 18,000 ballots for Biden in the early morning hours at State Farm Arena. There’s nothing to back this up.
Trump asked the Georgia officials to investigate his allegations about voter fraud. Many of his directives involved a quest to "find" enough ballots to put him in the winning column. He framed his requests to state officials as a mission to ferret out criminal wrongdoing.
Trump told officials that there was criminal removal of election machinery, although Germany told him there were no removed machines or machine parts.
"And you can’t let it happen, and you are letting it happen," Trump said. "You know, I mean, I’m notifying you that you’re letting it happen. 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."
Trump continued, floating the idea that the results were a mistake or showed criminal actions:
"And flipping the state is a great testament to our country because, you know, this is — it’s a testament that they can admit to a mistake or whatever you want to call it. If it was a mistake, I don’t know. A lot of people think it wasn’t a mistake. It was much more criminal than that. But it’s a big problem in Georgia, and it’s not a problem that’s going away. I mean, you know, it’s not a problem that’s going away."
Trump said in Fulton there were "dumped ballots" as well as unsigned ballots and forgeries, telling state officials they could find the number of ballots that matched Trump’s margin.
"And you will find, you will be at 11,779 within minutes, because Fulton County is totally corrupt."
Trump directed officials to "check the ballots," saying workers were shredding ballots — another falsehood.
"Well, you better check the ballots, because they are shredding ballots, Ryan. … Look, we need only 11,000 votes. We have far more than that as it stands now. We’ll have more and more."
Trump taunted state election officials, suggesting that they were derelict and didn’t want to find the fraud.
"Brad. I got to get — I have to find 12,000 votes, and I have them times a lot. And therefore, I won the state. ... You know, and I watched you this morning, and you said, uh, well, there was no criminality. But I, I mean, all of this stuff is very dangerous stuff. When you talk about no criminality, I think it’s very dangerous for you to say that. I just, I just don’t know why you don’t want to have the votes counted as they are."
Trump added, "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."
Germany responded "That’s not accurate, Mr. President."
Alleging thousands of ballots were stuffed for Biden, Trump said to Germany, "Why don’t you want to find this, Ryan? What’s wrong with you? …. I’m just curious why wouldn’t, why do you keep fighting this thing? It just doesn’t make sense."
Trump asked Raffensperger, "What are we going to do? We won the election, and it’s not fair to take it away from us like this. And it’s going to be very costly in many ways. And I think you have to say that you’re going to re-examine it, and you can re-examine it, but re-examine it with people that want to find answers, not people that don’t want to find answers."
Raffensperger replied, "We have to stand by our numbers. We believe our numbers are right."
Trump continued to push Raffensperger. Following a rant about what he said were scammed ballots by a political operative, Trump said, "And why wouldn’t you want to say, hey, if in fact President Trump is right about that, then he wins the state of Georgia, just that one incident alone, without going through hundreds of thousands of dropped ballots?"
Trump added, "And I know this phone call is going nowhere other than, other than ultimately, you know — look, ultimately, I win, OK? Because you guys are so wrong."
At the end of the phone call, the Trump team asked for a subsequent meeting with Germany to discuss some of their specific allegations, including about dead voters. Germany replied he was happy to sit down and explain "hey, here’s, based on what we’ve looked at so far, here’s how we know this is wrong, this is wrong, this is wrong, this is wrong, this is wrong."
Trump signed off by thanking Raffensperger and Germany. "Thank you very much. Bye."
Rev.com, Transcript of Trump at Mar-a-Lago, April 4, 2023
Book by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Integrity Counts, Nov. 2, 2021
The Washington Post, Here’s the full transcript and audio of the call between Trump and Raffensperger, Jan. 5 2021
The New York Times, Transcript: President Trump’s phone call with Georgia election officials, Jan. 3, 2021
The New York Times, Email by David Worley to state officials, Jan. 3, 2021
U.S. representatives Ted Lieu of California and Kathleen Rice of New York, Letter to FBI, Jan. 4, 2021
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, Statement to media, Jan. 4, 2021
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, Letter, Feb. 10, 2021
PolitiFact, Lie of the Year 2019: Donald Trump’s claim whistleblower got Ukraine call 'almost completely wrong' Dec. 16, 2019
PolitiFact, "What Trump told Georgia election officials," March 16, 2021
PolitiFact, "Here’s why Georgia’s Republican officials are confident in their presidential election results," Jan. 5, 2021
Email interview, Steven Cheung, Donald Trump campaign spokesperson, April 5, 2023