Donald Trump pleaded with Georgia secretary of state to find votes to overturn Biden win

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Donald Trump spoke to Brad Raffensperger on Saturday - EPA
Donald Trump spoke to Brad Raffensperger on Saturday - EPA

Donald Trump put pressure on Georgia’s secretary of state to overturn Joe Biden’s victory, it has been reported.

A recording of an hour-long call between Mr Trump and fellow Republican, Brad Raffensperger, was leaked to the Washington Post.

In the call Mr Trump pleaded with Mr Raffensperger to “find” the 11,779 votes which enabled Mr Biden to win the state.

“There’s nothing wrong with saying, you know, um, that you’ve recalculated,” Mr Trump is reported to have said.

"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."

Mr Trump confirmed in a tweet on Sunday that he had spoken with Mr Raffensperger a day earlier.

Mr Raffensperger responded on Twitter: "Respectfully, President Trump: What you're saying is not true. The truth will come out."

At another point in the conversation, Mr Trump appeared to threaten Mr Raffensperger and Ryan Germany, the secretary of state's legal counsel, by suggesting both could be criminally liable if they failed to find that thousands of ballots in Fulton County had been illegally destroyed. There is no evidence to support Mr Trump's claim.

"That's a criminal offence," Mr Trump says. "And you can't let that happen."

Biden senior adviser Bob Bauer said the recording was "irrefutable proof" of Mr Trump pressuring and threatening an official in his own party to "rescind a state's lawful, certified vote count and fabricate another in its place."

"It captures the whole, disgraceful story about Donald Trump's assault on American democracy," Mr Bauer said.

Vice-president elect, Kamala Harris, described the call l as a "bold abuse of power by the president of the United States", while left-wing Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said she believed Mr Trump had committed an impeachable offence.

"If it was up to me, there would be articles of impeachment on the floor quite quickly," she said.

Pressure on Mr Trump to depart the White House was intensified when all 10 living former Defence Secretaries, including two he appointed, joined forces in a Washington Post oped to warn him against trying to use the military to dispute the election result.

Details of the call provided further evidence of the desperate attempts by the president and his allies to “win” an election he comprehensively lost.

It was the latest twist in the extraordinary aftermath of November’s presidential election.

Mr Trump’s intervention triggered calls for his prosecution for putting pressure on Mr Raffensperger to tamper with the outcome of an election.

Democratic congressman, Adam Schiff, described the call as “potentially criminal.”

It came after US vice-president Mike Pence gave his backing to a dozen Republican senators who plan to object to the confirmation of Joe Biden’s election win when it comes before Congress on Wednesday.

Mr Pence, who will preside over what is normally a routine ceremonial occasion, issued a statement over the weekend saying he “shares the concerns of millions of Americans about voter fraud and irregularities in the last election”.

One congressman, Louie Gohmert, the Republican congressman who asked a court to give Mr Pence the power to overturn Mr Biden’s victory, has called for Mr Trump’s supporters to take to the streets.

Despite Mr Pence’s intervention, the rebels lack the numbers on Capitol Hill to prevent Mr Biden’s victory being rubber-stamped.

Democrats already hold a majority in the House and could win control of the Senate – with the casting vote of vice-president-elect, Kamala Harris – if they win this week’s run-off elections in Georgia.

The attempt to block Mr Biden’s victory is a symbolic gesture which has exposed a schism in the Republican ranks between Trump loyalists and the party establishment, including senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, who believe the election result should be honoured.

Senator Josh Hawley - Susan Walsh/Ap
Senator Josh Hawley - Susan Walsh/Ap

Pro-Trump hardliners dominate the party’s ranks in the House of Representatives with 140 of 196 members supporting the challenge.

Mr Pence and several of the senators who have endorsed the move to block confirmation of Mr Biden’s victory are seen as likely presidential candidates in 2024 including Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley of Missouri.

Mr Gohmert’s incendiary remarks reflect the febrile atmosphere in Washington since Mr Biden’s victory,  with Mr Trump and his supporters continuing to claim that the election was stolen.

“Basically, in effect, the ruling would be you’ve got to go to the streets and be as violent as Antifa and BLM, (Black Lives Matter),” Mr Gohmert said on the conservative television station, Newsmax.

Lin Wood, an attorney behind several lawsuits challenging Mr Biden’s victory, suggested that Mr Pence should face “execution by firing squad” for refusing to overturn the election result.

His comments were disowned by Jenna Ellis, Mr Trump’s campaign lawyer.

Mr Cruz tried to lower the temperature when he appeared on Fox News on Sunday. 

“I think we need to tone down the rhetoric. This is already a volatile situation. It's like a tinder box and throwing lit matches into it." 

There are already fears that a massive pro-Trump protest in Washington DC planned to coincide with the meeting of Congress to ratify the election could turn violent.

The Proud Boys, the far-right group which was told by Mr Trump to “stand back and stand by” in September, intends to turn up in force on Wednesday.

According to postings on the social media platform, they also plan to divide into “smaller teams” – suggesting that they will reprise tactics which have seen brawls erupt between the Proud Boys and left-wing counter-protesters.

Already the homes of Mr McConnell and Democratic house leader, Nancy Pelosi, have been vandalised over the refusal of Congress to pass legislation increasing coronavirus relief payments from $600 to $2,000.

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