In late December, former President Donald Trump called Frances Watson, the chief investigator in the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, and during their six-minute phone call, he encouraged her to look for fraud in mail-in ballots that were being audited, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The phone call was first reported by The Washington Post in January, but was not released until now. Trump told Watson multiple times that he won the state, and “something bad happened,” the Journal reports. He told Watson that she had the most important job in the country, and “when the right answer comes out, you’ll be praised.” Trump also said ballots were “dropped,” but did not explain what he meant, and Watson did not press him further, the Journal says.
There were two statewide recounts in Georgia, with both finding the same thing: President Biden won the state by about 12,000 votes, and Trump lost. At the time of the call to Watson, a forensic audit was underway of 15,000 mail-in ballots from Cobb County; it was later announced that no evidence of fraud was found. Trump told Watson he was calling at the request of his chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and she said she was “honored” to be speaking to him and was “only interested in the truth and finding the information that is based on the facts.”
Trump picked up the phone again in early January to urge Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s win in the state. This prompted a criminal investigation into attempts to influence the 2020 presidential election, now underway by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.
In a statement to the Journal, Raffensperger’s spokesman said Trump’s call with Watson is “just one more example” of how his office promised to “follow the law, count every legal vote, and investigate any allegations of fraud.”