Georgia on his mind, Maricopa County official 'horrified' when Trump called after 2020 election

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The White House made repeated calls in the weeks following the 2020 election. But the recipient, a top Maricopa County supervisor, was not keen to get involved with what he feared was the setup for a conversation about finding fraud that officials were certain did not exist.

Clint Hickman, a 56-year-old lifelong Republican who was chairman of the board in the populous Arizona county that is now the site of a controversial audit of the 2020 election, described the"horrifying" realization he had in early January after it was revealed former President Donald Trump tried pressuring Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” the number of votes sufficient to eclipse the margin of President Joe Biden's victory.

That call is now under scrutiny as part of a criminal investigation into Trump's efforts to overturn the results of the Nov. 3 election in Fulton County.

Hickman says he ignored the calls from the White House. But like Georgia, Arizona was a reliably red state that narrowly went Biden's way in 2020. Interviews, text messages, and voicemails obtained by Arizona Central show Trump wanted a chat — at the time when some of Trump's most fervent allies were pressing members of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to question and stymie the results.

Hickman, who was chairman of the board during the 2020 election cycle, was first tipped off to the possibility of a phone call with Trump on Nov. 13, hours after a ballot update from Maricopa County clinched Biden’s victory in the state. Kelli Ward, chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party, told him that night, “POTUS will probably be calling you.”


Hickman told Ward he “cannot talk about litigation,” which appears to be a reference to lawsuits the Trump campaign and its allies filed in the wake of the election. The GOP chairwoman said that was not the reason for the call.

“Just a check in from the President of the United States,” she wrote. “So I guess that means you could/should take the call.”

A phone call from the White House switchboard came on New Year’s Eve. Hickman said he didn’t answer the phone call, and the operator left a voicemail that he didn’t return and later deleted.

On Jan. 2, it was reported Trump tried pressuring Raffensperger to "find 11,780 votes,” referencing a number that would hand Trump victory in the state. Hickman listened to the audio a day later on Jan. 3, and he said it left him “horrified.”

Later that night, he got another phone call from the White House, which he let go to voicemail.

“Hello, sir. This is the White House operator. I was calling to let you know that the president's available to take your call if you're free,” the voicemail said. “If you could please give us a call back, sir, that’d be great. You have a good evening.”

Hickman said he didn’t call back because he suspected Trump would do what he did to Raffensperger.

“I didn’t want to walk into that space,” Hickman said. “I’m not going to tape a president, so I’m not going to talk to a president … I didn’t want to have a very rough call to my home on a Sunday night.”

In the call with Raffensperger, the audio of which was published by media outlets for the public to hear, Trump said he “knew what they did, and you’re not reporting it. That’s a criminal offense, and you can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk.”

He told the secretary of state, “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.”

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s office is investigating the call, and Raffensperger has said he’s cooperating with the inquiry.

The fight over Maricopa County is not yet over.

The GOP-led Arizona Senate commissioned an audit of the contest, which began after sparring in court with the county, and the findings are expected to be released later this summer. Maricopa County officials and Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs have raised repeated concerns about the audit.

Critics say the results from two previous election machine audits conducted for the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors showed no irregularities in the county's 2020 election. There was also a recount of a sample of ballots that did not turn up any problems.

Hickman publicly defended his county's voting system but called the experience of the 2020 election, which he said included receiving death threats, a "troubling time."


"Nobody truly understands what our job is as publicly elected officials that swear an oath, and part of that is to protect ... the secret ballot," Hickman said. "We've tried to protect the processes and procedures that counties use to tabulate votes."

"This has just been a troubling time in my public service, really. That's all I can say," he added. "I didn't do public service for this."

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Tags: News, Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, 2020 Elections, Arizona

Original Author: Mike Brest

Original Location: Georgia on his mind, Maricopa County official 'horrified' when Trump called after 2020 election

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