The Wall Street Journal has obtained a new audio recording that shows then-President Trump pressuring the lead investigator in last year’s Georgia mail-in ballot audit to find fraud during a December phone call and promising her that “she will be praised” for her efforts.
In a new bombshell article published Wednesday, The Journal reported that Trump repeatedly and incorrectly stated during the six-minute phone call with chief investigator Frances Watson that he and not President Biden had won the election in Georgia, saying, “Something bad happened.”
“When the right answer comes out, you’ll be praised,” Trump told Watson.
“I can assure you that our team and the [Georgia Bureau of Investigation], that we are only interested in the truth and finding the information that is based on the facts,” Watson replied, according to the Journal.
Georgia officials have opened a criminal investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the November election there, one of several states he lost where he has made unfounded claims of widespread fraud.
His phone call with Watson could play into that probe.
The Journal reported that Trump did not offer any evidence during the call, at one point saying that his loss in Georgia “never made sense, and, you know, they dropped ballots. They dropped all these ballots. Stacey Abrams, really, really terrible.”
Before he left office, Trump faced bipartisan criticism for a separate January phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) in which he encouraged the top elections official to “find” more than 11,000 ballots to overturn the vote in his favor.
Raffensperger’s office said in a statement to the Journal that the newly released recording with Watson shows officials followed the law to the letter.
“This phone call is just one more example of how Secretary Raffensperger’s office’s public comments also reflect what was said in one-on-one conversations: We would follow the law, count every legal vote and investigate any allegations of fraud. That’s exactly what we did, and how we arrived at the accurate final vote tally,” Raffensperger’s spokesman Ari Schaffer said.
In the call, Trump also signaled how significant January 6th would be in his effort to overturn the election results. “That’s an important date,” Trump told Watson.
Watson expressed surprise that Trump had called her, the Journal reported.
“I do know that you are a very busy, very important man, and I am very honored that you called,” she said. “And quite frankly I’m shocked that you would take time to do that, but I am very appreciative.”
Trump’s representatives did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment.