On January 2, 2021, President Trump called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and pressured him to overturn the state’s election results, yet another venture in his fruitless two-month attempt to somehow win himself a second term. In the hour-long call, the president makes baseless claims as to why he should have won Georgia — citing reasons such as rally size and debunked claims of voting irregularities and fraud. What starts off as a nonsensical rant soon turns much more serious and damaging.
When talking about unsubstantiated claims of shredded and fraudulent ballots, he accused Raffensperger of being complicit and knowledgeable in voting fraud within Georgia: “You know what they did, and you’re not reporting it.” Despite all evidence pointing to the contrary, Mr. Trump maintained his facade and went as far as to threaten Raffensperger for covering up this nonexist fraud: “That’s a criminal offense. And you can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer.”
Raffensperger had done nothing wrong. Georgia election officials had already recounted and recertified its ballots three separate times, confirming that Joe Biden won the state; the election process was fair and secure. There were no “shredded ballots” or significant amounts of “dead people voting” to report. What Trump did was unprecedented: he, a sitting United States president, threatened a member of his own party for not overturning legitimate election results. If the election truly was as fraudulent as he had claimed, President Trump would not have lost over sixty election lawsuits — some which involved the state of Georgia — at the time he called Raffensperger.
This phone call has been likened to Nixon’s smoking gun tape in the Watergate scandal. Yet, to compare Trump’s call to Nixon’s tape is not sufficient enough to explain how deplorable his actions were. Nixon’s recorded conversation with Bob Haldeman revealed his guilt in the Watergate coverup attempt whereas President Trump’s phone call with Raffensperger demonstrates coercion of a government official to overturn the results of a legitimate presidential election. He made his goal clear: “All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have.”
The day after Trump’s phone call was made public, Georgia state officials refuted every claim he made in a press conference.
President Trump’s intentions when he called Georgia’s Secretary of State were clear: he wanted to overturn the results of a legitimate election. He knew he did not win the state, so he resorted to threats. Despite the unprecedented challenges to the presidential election and shocking events of January 6, 2021, the electoral college results of Georgia and all other 49 states were certified. Joe Biden will be the 46th President of the United States, and history will, without a doubt, have much to say about this phone call.
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