President Donald Trump is promising to drum up a burst of political theater in his waning weeks in office, starting with Wednesday’s election certification procedure in the U.S. Senate.
Even after four years of drama and desperation, Trump proved he hasn’t lost his power to shock after the Washington Post released audio of a telephone conversation the President held Jan. 2 with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Raffensperger’s general counsel, Ryan Germany.
A four-minute excerpt of the conversation published Sunday by the Post reveals Trump by turns bullying and begging for Raffensperger to reconsider the results of the presidential election in the state. Trump urges him to “find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have because we won the state.”
Trump insists that Raffensperger “has to say that you’re going to re-examine it and you’re going to have to re-examine them with people that want to find answers, not people who don’t want to find answers.”
Trump’s rambling remarks underscore reports that he is convinced that he actually won the Nov. 3 election over his Democratic opponent, now President-elect Joe Biden. Weeks of Trump falsely agitating over “stolen election” and unfounded claims of voting irregularities will crest on Wednesday with 11 sitting and incoming U.S. Senators vowing to dispute the election results that have already been endorsed by election officials in all 50 states.
The call in pro-Trump circles for supporters of the embattled President to attend what has been billed in MAGA circles as the “March for Trump” and “March to Save America Rally” in D.C. on Wednesday promises to make for a busy week in the Capitol. Tuesday also brings Georgia’s pivotal runoff election for both U.S. Senate seats. The outcome will determine which party controls the chamber.
In Saturday’s call with Raffensperger, Trump at times sounds like a toddler whining over a lost toy. At others he tries to bully them into agreeing to “re-examine” the election results.
“We won the election. It’s not fair to take it away from us like this,” he tells Raffensperger. Later he asserts, “You know what they did and you’re not reporting it. That’s a criminal offense. … That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan.”
Raffensperger, a Republican who has been in the spotlight since Nov. 3, takes a measured tone and repeatedly states that the President’s data is simply “wrong.” He also flatly disputes Trump’s conspiratorial claims of voting machines being rigged and pro-Trump ballots being shredded, given the lack of evidence that such things occurred.
“Mr. President, the challenge you have is the data you have is wrong,” Raffensperger responded.
The Washington Post’s release of the stunning conversation is an echo of the Post’s investigative reporting in October 2016 that unearthed audio of Trump on a hot mic from 2005 in which he made lewd remarks about women and bragged about how his celebrity gave him the power to “grab them by the pussy,” as he put it.