ATLANTA — While election officials in Georgia were verifying signatures on absentee ballot envelopes in one metro-Atlanta county, President Donald Trump pressed a lead investigator to “find the fraud” and said it would make the investigator a national hero.
The December call, described by a person familiar with it who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to describe the sensitive nature of the discussion, is yet another link in the chain of the extraordinary pressure campaign waged by Trump on state officials as he sought to overturn the results of the November election, which he lost to Democrat Joe Biden.
It is one of at least three phone calls, held over the course of a month between early December and early January, where Trump sought help from high-level Georgia officials in subverting the election — only to be rebuffed each time. Trump lost to Biden in Georgia by 11,779 votes.
The call to the investigator preceded Trump’s January 2 call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger where he asked election officials to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s win in the state. It occurred as election officials were conducting an audit of signatures on absentee ballot envelopes in Cobb County.
The audit, which reviewed more than 15,000 signatures, found no cases of fraud. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation helped conduct the signature audit.
Trump and his allies have for months made false claims about Georgia’s signature verification process for absentee ballots and about the results of the November election. Among other things, they demanded an audit of the signature matches.
The White House has no immediate comment. The call was first reported today by The Washington Post, which says it is withholding the name of the investigator, who doesn’t respond to requests for comment, because of the risk of threats and harassment directed at election officials.