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‘I just want to find 11,870 votes’: Trump’s bombshell call

US President Donald Trump has been recorded pressuring the top election official in Georgia to “find” enough votes to overturn his defeat to Joe Biden.The Washington Post has obtained audio of a phone call between Mr Trump and Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, which happened yesterday.Also on the line were White House Chief…

US President Donald Trump has been recorded pressuring the top election official in Georgia to “find” enough votes to overturn his defeat to Joe Biden.

The Washington Post has obtained audio of a phone call between Mr Trump and Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, which happened yesterday.

Also on the line were White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, conservative lawyer Cleta Mitchell, and Mr Raffensperger’s legal counsel Ryan Germany.

“We have won this election in Georgia,” Mr Trump told Mr Raffensperger.

“And there’s nothing wrong with saying that, Brad.

“The people of Georgia are angry. The people of the country are angry. And there’s nothing wrong with saying that, you know, that um, you’ve recalculated.”

“Well, Mr President, the challenge that you have is that the data you have is wrong,” Mr Raffensperger responded.

Georgia counted its votes three times in the wake of the election, confirming Mr Biden’s victory by a final margin of 11,779. That included a full recount by hand, which found no evidence to support Mr Trump’s claims about widespread voter fraud, nor any of his other conspiracy theories.

Mr Raffensperger and the state’s Republican Governor, Brian Kemp, certified the outcome, and Georgia’s 16 electoral votes were officially cast for Mr Biden in mid-December.

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The hour-long phone call included several similar exchanges, with Mr Trump insisting he actually won Georgia easily.

“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,” the President said at one point.

“There’s no way I lost Georgia. There’s no way. We won by hundreds of thousands of votes,” he insisted multiple times.

“Tell me Brad, what are we going to do? We won the election, and it’s not fair to take it away from us like this,” he said.

“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 who don’t want to find answers.”

Mr Trump brought up several of the debunked allegations he has made online since the election, such as the theory that Dominion voting machines rigged the result, or the claim that officials in Democratic-leaning Fulton County destroyed thousands of ballots to cover up fraud.

“Do you think it’s possible that they shredded ballots in Fulton County? Because that is what the rumour is,” he asked Mr Germany.

“And also that Dominion took out machines. That Dominion is really moving fast to get rid of their, um, machinery. Do you know anything about that? Because that’s illegal.”

“No. Dominion has not moved any machinery out of Fulton County,” Mr Germany told him.

“But have they moved the inner parts of the machines and replaced them with other parts?” Mr Trump asked.

“No,” said Mr Germany.

“Are you sure, Ryan?” the President said.

“I’m sure. I’m sure, Mr President,” Mr Germany responded.

At another point, Mr Trump claimed election workers had counted ballots for Mr Biden multiple times.

“Brad, why did they put the votes in three times? You know, they put them in three times,” he asked the Secretary of State.

“Mr President, they did not. We did an audit of that and we proved conclusively that they were not scanned three times,” said Mr Raffensperger.

Mr Trump claimed thousands of ballots had been cast using dead people’s names.

“The actual number was two. Two. Two people that were dead, that voted,” Mr Raffensperger informed him.

RELATED: ‘Going to jail soon’: Trump repeats ominous threat

In another moment, amid the barrage of allegations, Mr Raffensperger suggested Mr Trump’s sources were less than credible.

“Mr President, the problem you have with social media, that – people can say anything,” he said, alluding to the sort of claims that start on social media, make their way onto right-wing outlets like OANN or Newsmax, and then show up on the President’s Twitter feed.

“Oh, this isn’t social media. This is Trump media,” Mr Trump replied.

“It’s not social media. It’s really not. It’s not social media. I don’t care about social media. I couldn’t care less.”

The President’s frustration was evident. He called Mr Raffensperger a “child”, said the Secretary of State was “either dishonest or incompetent”, and warned he was taking a “big risk” by denying the theory about destroyed ballots in Fulton County.

“That’s a criminal offence,” he said of the debunked claim.

“You can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you, and to Ryan, your lawyer.”

He also brought up the upcoming Senate runoff elections in Georgia, which will happen on Tuesday local time (two days from now).

The elections are necessary because no candidate achieved a majority of the vote on November 3. The Republican incumbents, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, are fending off challenges from Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.

The Republicans need to win one of the two races to retain their majority in the US Senate. Should the Democrats win both, the chamber will be split 50/50, giving incoming vice president Kamala Harris the tiebreaking vote.

Republican officials in Georgia fear the President’s rhetoric could convince the party’s voters that the results will be fraudulent whatever they do, leading to poor turnout.

“You have a big election coming up, and because of what you’ve done to the President – you know, the people of Georgia know that this was a scam,” Mr Trump told Mr Raffensperger.

“Because of what you’ve done to the President, a lot of people aren’t going out to vote, and a lot of Republicans are going to vote negative, because they hate what you did to the President. OK?

“They hate it. And they’re going to vote. And you would be respected, really respected, if this can be straightened out before the election.”

Both men alluded to their phone call on Twitter a few hours before The Washington Post published its story.

It has been two months since the election, which Mr Biden won with 306 electoral votes to Mr Trump’s 232. The threshold for victory was 270.

If Georgia were to flip – and to be clear, there is not even the slightest possibility of that happening – Mr Biden would still be the winner by a margin of 290-248.

The day after the Georgia runoff elections, Congress will hold a joint sitting to formally count the electoral votes. Then, on January 20, Mr Biden will be sworn in as the next president.

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