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Trump pressured Georgia election chief to 'find' votes to flip poll result

President Donald Trump pressured Georgia's election chief to overturn Joe Biden's win in the state, suggesting in a telephone call that the official "find" enough votes to hand Trump the victory

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Donald Trump | US Presidential elections 2020 | US vote recount

AP  |  Atlanta 

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

President badgered and pleaded with Georgia's election chief to overturn Joe Biden's win in the state, suggesting in a telephone call that the official "find" enough votes to hand Trump the victory.

The conversation on Saturday was the latest step in an unprecedented effort by a sitting president to pressure a state official to reverse the outcome of a free and fair election that he lost.

The renewed intervention and the persistent and unfounded claims of fraud by the first president to lose reelection in almost 30 years come nearly two weeks before Trump leaves office and two days before twin runoffs in Georgia that will determine control of the Senate.

Trump confirmed in a tweet on Sunday that he had spoken with Georgia's secretary of state, Republican Brad Raffensperger, a day earlier.

Audio snippets of the conversation were posted online by The Washington Post. A recording of the call was later obtained by The Associated Press from a person who was on the call.

The president, who has refused to accept his loss to the Democratic president-elect, is heard telling Raffensperger at one point: "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."

Georgia certified election results showing that Biden won the state's November 3 election by 11,779 votes.

The White House referred questions to Trump's reelection campaign, which did not respond on Sunday to an emailed request for comment. Raffensperger's office did not respond to a text message seeking comment.

Trump has repeatedly attacked how Raffensperger ran Georgias elections, claiming without evidence that the states 16 electoral votes were wrongly given to Biden.

"He has no clue!" Trump tweeted of Raffensperger, saying the state official "was unwilling, or unable" to answer questions about a series of claims about ballot handling and voters that have been debunked or shot down by judges and election authorities.

Raffenspergers Twitter response: "Respectfully, President Trump: What youre saying is not true. The truth will come out."

There was no widespread fraud in the election, which a range of election officials across the country, as well as Trumps former attorney general, William Barr, have confirmed.

Republican governors in Arizona and Georgia, key battleground states crucial to Bidens victory, have also vouched for the integrity of the elections in their states. Nearly all the legal challenges from Trump and his allies have been dismissed by judges, including two tossed by the Supreme Court, which includes three Trump-nominated justices.

The Senate runoffs pit Sen. Kelly Loeffler against Democrat Raphael Warnock and Sen. David Perdue against Democrat Jon Ossoff. With the Senate up for grabs, the candidates and outside groups supporting them have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the contests, deluging Georgia with television ads, mail, phone calls and door-knocking efforts.

Loeffler said she had not decided whether to join Republican colleagues in challenging the legitimacy of Bidens victory over Trump. The Democratic candidates whose wins Tuesday would help clear roadblocks for the new administrations agenda awaited a campaign visit from Vice President-elect

Trump has persisted in attacking top Georgia Republicans over his election loss in the state, raising fears that his words could cause some Republicans to stay away from the polls.

"I believe that we will win on Tuesday because of the grassroots momentum, the unprecedented movement energy in Georgia right now," Ossoff told CNN's "State of the Union." He said "it feels in Georgia like we are on the cusp of a historic victory."

Loeffler, when asked about siding with the growing group of Senate Republicans seeking to contest the Electoral College count, said she was "looking very closely at it, and Ive been one of the first to say, everythings on the table."

She told "Fox News Sunday" that "Im fighting for this president because hes fought for us. Hes our president and were going to keep making sure that this is a fair election."

Warnock, the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta who has continued to preach as he campaigns for office, seemed to allude to the runoff in a message delivered Sunday. He told viewers watching remotely due to the pandemic that they are "on the verge of victory" in their lives if they accept that God has already equipped them with the ability to overcome their adversaries.

"When God is with you, you can defeat giants," said Warnock, who ended the early morning service by encouraging Georgians to vote on Tuesday.

"Its so very important that your voice be heard in this defining moment in our country," he said. "I would not be so presumptuous as to tell you who to vote for."

Loeffler was appointed to fill a vacancy when Republican Johnny Isakson resigned his seat, and she will be in the Senate, win or lose this coming week, until the election is certified. Perdues seat will temporarily be vacant after his term expires Sunday at the end of six years.

Harris was scheduled to be in Savannah on Sunday afternoon. Trump and Biden plan last-minute, in-person efforts Monday to mobilize voters after more than 3 million people cast ballots early.

The president continues to create turbulence for Loeffler and Perdue by questioning Bidens narrow victory in Georgia and the reliability of the states election systems.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Mon, January 04 2021. 06:32 IST