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Trump’s Crackpot Phone Call

The President of the United States offers Georgia elections official pretext for invalidating presidential results

In the weeks after Election Day, Donald Trump has proven that he is everything his enemies say he is. Here’s a Washington Post exclusive about a crackhead phone call he had with the Georgia Secretary of State, in which he tried to intimidate the man into finding votes for him. Excerpts:

President Trump urged fellow Republican Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, to “find” enough votes to overturn his defeat in an extraordinary one-hour phone call Saturday that election experts said raised legal questions.

The Washington Post obtained a recording of the conversation in which Trump alternately berated Raffensperger, tried to flatter him, begged him to act and threatened him with vague criminal consequences if the secretary of state refused to pursue his false claims, at one point warning that Raffensperger was taking “a big risk.”

Throughout the call, Raffensperger and his office’s general counsel rejected his assertions, explaining that Trump is relying on debunked conspiracy theories and that President-elect Joe Biden’s 11,779-vote victory in Georgia was fair and accurate.

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

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

At another point, Trump said: “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.”

More:

Trump’s conversation with Raffensperger put him in legally questionable territory, legal experts said. By exhorting the secretary of state to “find” votes and to deploy investigators who “want to find answers,” Trump appears to be encouraging him to doctor the election outcome in Georgia.

But experts said Trump’s clearer transgression is a moral one. Edward B. Foley, a law professor at the Ohio State University, said that the legal questions are murky and would be subject to prosecutorial discretion. But he also emphasized that the call was “inappropriate and contemptible” and should prompt moral outrage.

“He was already tripping the emergency meter,” Foley said. “So we were at 12 on a scale of 1 to 10, and now we’re at 15.”

Just jaw-dropping stuff here, from a President of the United States:

His desperation was perhaps most pronounced during an exchange with Germany, Raffensperger’s general counsel, in which he openly begged for validation.

Trump: “Do you think it’s possible that they shredded ballots in Fulton County? Because is what the rumor is. And also that Dominion took out machines. That Dominion is really moving fast to get rid of their, uh, machinery. Do you know anything about that? Because that’s illegal.

Germany responded: “No, Dominion has not moved any machinery out of Fulton County.”

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

Germany: “No.”

Trump: “Are you sure? Ryan?”

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

Read it all — and listen on the story to the audiotaped excerpts. The Secretary of State got fed up with it after an hour and more or less hung up on Trump.

This is beyond disturbing. If Trump weren’t going to be replaced in a couple of weeks, this would surely be impeachable. If on Tuesday the Republicans lose the Georgia Senate races because of the childish tantrums Trump is throwing, the cost is going to be immense.

What a humiliation for the United States. All those Senators who have said they’re going to contest the Electoral College result, they are enabling this destruction.

UPDATE:The Washington Post has now published audio of the entire phone call, and a transcript.

Read the transcript. The president is unhinged.

UPDATE.2:

UPDATE.3: Sen. Tom Cotton is too hawkish for my tastes, but he got this one right. Bravo!

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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