Trump insists his phone call with Georgia's secretary of state was 'perfect' after Fulton County DA requests a special grand jury in criminal probe

·4 min read
Trump on phone
Former President Donald Trump.White House
  • Trump released a statement insisting his phone call with Georgia's secretary of state after the 2020 election was "perfect."

  • The statement followed a report that the Fulton County DA requested a special grand jury in her criminal probe into Trump's actions.

  • The former president also continued falsely insisting that there was rampant fraud in Georgia.

Former President Donald Trump released a lengthy statement on Thursday describing his phone call to Georgia's secretary of state seeking to overturn the state's 2020 election results as "perfect."

He released the statement after it was reported that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis requested the formation of a special grand jury to help her office with its ongoing investigation into whether Trump's efforts to pressure Raffensperger constituted criminal conduct.

Prosecutors found "possible criminal disruptions … to unlawfully alter the outcome of the 2020 elections in this state," Willis' office said in its letter to a judge requesting the special grand jury.

In his phone call to Raffensperger on January 2, 2021, Trump repeatedly asked the secretary of state to "find" an additional 11, 780 votes — one more than the number of votes Joe Biden won Georgia by in the 2020 election — to swing the state's election results in Trump's favor.

"The people of Georgia are angry — the people in the country are angry," Trump said during the call, which was first reported on by The Washington Post. "And there's nothing wrong with saying, you know, um, that you've recalculated."

Raffensperger repeatedly pushed back and said the data did not support Trump's claim that there was significant voter fraud in Georgia's election. But Trump interjected: "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."

On Thursday, Trump said in his statement that his phone call to Raffensperger was "perfect, perhaps even more so than my call with the Ukrainian President, if that's possible." He was referring to his July 2019 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which he sought to pressure Zelensky into launching politically motivated investigations targeting the Bidens ahead of the 2020 US election. That phone call formed the basis of Trump's first impeachment.

"I knew there were large numbers of people on the line, including numerous lawyers for both sides," Trump said of his phone call with Raffensperger. "Although I assumed the call may have been inappropriately, and perhaps illegally, recorded, I was not informed of that."

Trump's statement went on to say that he "didn't say anything wrong in the call" and that it was made while he was "President on behalf of the United States of America, to look into the massive voter fraud which took place in Georgia."

Willis, in her letter, wrote that Raffensperger is a key witness for her investigation, but he will not grant an interview unless he is subpoenaed. If approved, the special grand jury would have subpoena power.

Despite Trump's claims of rampant fraud in the 2020 election, bipartisan and nonpartisan election and cybersecurity officials concluded that the election was in fact the safest and most secure in US history. All 50 states certified their election results on December 14, 2020, and Trump and his Republican allies lost nearly every lawsuit they filed challenging the election results, while the few they were successful in did not materially change the results in any state.

Still, the former president falsely insisted on Thursday that purported "ballot harvesting" in Georgia could have resulted in a difference of "tens of thousands of votes."

"What this Civil Special Grand Jury should be looking into is not my perfect phone call, but the large scale voter fraud that took place in Georgia. Then they would be doing a great job for the people. No more political witch hunts!" Trump's statement concluded.

Michael Moore, an Obama-era former US attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, told Insider that Willis' request should concern Trump. A special grand jury would not be able to indict Trump or anyone else, but it would be able to gather more evidence that could lead to charges down the road.

Brent Griffiths and Camila DeChalus contributed to this report.

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