Some Republicans reacted strongly to President Donald Trump pressuring Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to "find me 11,780 votes," but most GOP lawmakers remained silent on Sunday as their Democratic colleagues condemned the "immoral" effort to reverse his election defeat to President-elect Joe Biden.
© Tasos Katopodis/Getty
President Donald Trump arrives back at the White House on December 31, 2020 in Washington, DC.
In an hour-long recording of a call on Saturday afternoon, obtained by the Washington Post, Trump aggressively attempted to persuade Raffensperger, a Republican, to find him enough votes to overturn the Georgia election in his favor. The president threatened the official, begged, flattered and warned that he would be taking a "big risk" if he refused to help his efforts at securing re-election.
The conversation heated up after Raffensperger denied the president's request, explained that his allegations of voter fraud had been debunked, and asserted that Biden won fairly.
"The people of Georgia are angry, the people in the country are angry," Trump told the official. "And there's nothing wrong with saying, you know, um, that you've recalculated."
"All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes...Because we won the state."
A few Republicans quickly condemned Trump's behavior, but most GOP lawmakers in Congress have kept quiet. Others defended the president and criticized the release of his "confidential" phone call.
"Republicans, there is no defense for this. None," former Arizona GOP Senator Jeff Flake tweeted.
Former Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, who's currently chairman of the Texas Forever Forward PAC, accused Trump of "trying to dismantle our democracy by seeking to invalidate an election he lost" following reports of the call.
"Anyone who supports this effort is demonstrating a disregard for the U.S. Constitution, the will of the American people, the sanctity of the electoral process, and the rule of law," he said.
Errol Webber, a Republican candidate for governor of California, called the release of the "confidential" Trump phone conversation "illegal."
Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers denounced Trump for threatening Raffensperger, with some suggesting that he had committed a criminal act by attempting to steal the election.
Congressman Adam Schiff of California expressed his belief that Trump's call was "among his most despicable abuses of power from a long list."
"Possibly criminal, morally repugnant, virulently anti-democratic," he said. "If it's potentially criminal, then it's potentially impeachable."
New York Congressman Jerry Nadler insisted that Trump is "profoundly unfit for office" in a statement.
"In threatening these officials with vague 'criminal' consequences, and in encouraging them to 'find' additional votes and hire investigators who 'want to find answers,' the President may have also subjected himself to additional criminal liability," Nadler said. "Both tactics are reckless, deeply selfish, and place love of power over commitment to our democratic process."
Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon tweeted, "Trump's call pushing the GA Secretary of State to doctor the election outcome is an immoral attempt to manipulate the election and a potential criminal act. January 20 can't come soon enough."
Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment.
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