President Donald Trump last month urged the chief investigator for the Georgia secretary of state’s office to “find the fraud” in the 2020 presidential election, telling the individual that they would be a “national hero,” according to a source with knowledge of the call.
The phone call, which was first reported by The Washington Post, is the latest unearthed effort by Trump to attempt to pressure Georgia government officials to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s win in the Peach State.
Despite Trump’s insistence, his own administration and state election officials across the country have found no evidence of widespread fraud in the election.
The phone call with the investigator happened in December more than a week before Trump’s January 2 call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, according to the source. The Post reported that the “lengthy” phone call was on December 23, citing a person familiar with the call.
Raffensperger confirmed to the Post that Trump had placed the call, but said he wasn’t familiar with the specifics of the conversation between his office’s chief investigator and the President.
He added that it would be inappropriate for the President to have attempted to intervene in the audit, the Post reported.
The newspaper withheld the name of the investigator, explaining its decision to do so is “because of the risk of threats and harassment directed at election officials.” The individual did not reply to the Post’s requests for comment.
The White House declined CNN’s request for comment. CNN has reached out to the Georgia secretary of state’s office for comment.
The timing of Trump’s call came as the investigator was leading an audit started in December into allegations that Cobb County election workers had inadequately performed signature matches ahead of the June primary, according to the source.
The secretary of state’s office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation audited more than 15,000 signatures in Cobb County and found no fraudulent ballots.
Raffensperger, a Republican who supported the President for election, has been the target of Trump’s attacks after refuting the President’s claims of voter fraud.
During a stunning hour-long phone call earlier this month, Trump pushed Raffensperger to “find” votes to overturn the election results after his loss to Biden, according to an audio recording of the call obtained by CNN and first reported by the Post.
“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 on the call.
In another part, he said, “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.”
Raffensperger, however, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” he didn’t feel pressure from the President when he asked him to “find” the votes.
Experienced prosecutors, election lawyers and some public officials called for criminal investigations into whether Trump broke election fraud laws. CNN reported that two Democratic House members referred the matter to the FBI.
In another phone call in early December, first reported by the Post, Trump had tried convincing Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp to get state legislators to overturn Biden’s win in the state.
Trump had asked Kemp to call a special session and persuade state legislators to select their own electors that would support him, and for the governor to order an audit of absentee ballot signatures, CNN reported. Kemp explained to Trump at the time that he did not have the authority to order such an audit and denied the request to call a special session.