Washington (CNN)- President Donald Trump had been trying for weeks to get Georgia’s secretary of state on the phone.
Aghast at the thought he lost a state Republicans have held for decades, and desperate to reverse the result, the President insisted to his advisers he could persuade the state’s top election official to validate his false claims of voter fraud — if only he could speak with him directly.
So, for more than a month, operators at the White House tried reaching Brad Raffensperger. Eighteen attempted calls came into his Atlanta office from the White House switchboard in the weeks after the November 3 election.
Trump was making simultaneous efforts in other states he lost, inviting Republican state lawmakers from Pennsylvania and Michigan to the White House and placing phone calls to the GOP governors of Arizona and Georgia. Each time, Trump made similarly unfounded claims about voter fraud and inquired what could be done about it, according to people familiar with the conversations. And each time, his powers of salesmanship failed to convince anyone to change their states’ election results, Still, Trump remained adamant he could talk his way out of a loss, one person familiar with the matter said. And he continued to insist on getting Raffensperger on the line.
He finally did on Saturday, to explosive results.
The nearly 60-minute conversation, audio of which leaked a day later, provided a bleak window into the mind of a commander-in-chief consumed by conspiracy theories and enraged by loss.
As his pliant aides listened and contributed their thoughts, Trump devolved into vague threats of criminal prosecution and expressions of political regret. Like he has in nearly every conversation since he lost the election, Trump voiced disbelief at the reality he will no longer be president in a matter of weeks. “It’s just not possible to have lost Georgia. It’s not possible,” he said on the call. “When I heard it was close, I said there’s no way.” Neither Trump nor the White House has commented on the call, though Trump’s allies have accused Raffensperger of deception for leaking it.(CNN)