At one point, Trump appeared to threaten Raffensperger with a “devastating” “new tape” offering a “magnified” view of an alleged voter fraud situation involving triplicating ballots.
“I think it’s extremely unfortunate that Rudy Giuliani or his people, they sliced and diced that video and took it out of context,” Raffensperger said of a video Trump’s allies have used to bolster his fraud claims. “The events that transpired are nowhere near what was projected by, you know —”
Trump then interrupted Raffensperger to change the subject to poll watchers before the president returned to State Farm Arena, where a water main break temporarily delayed ballot counting on Election Day, creating enough space for conspiracy theories about ballot fraud. Raffensperger and Germany tried to set Trump straight, saying an audit found no fraud and neither did the Georgia or Federal Bureaus of Investigation when they looked into it.
“Well, there’s no way they could — then they’re incompetent. They’re either dishonest or incompetent, okay?” Trump responded. “There’s only two answers, dishonesty or incompetence. There’s just no way.”
Trump pivoted then to a theory about out-of-state voters, thousands of people who once lived in Georgia but no longer do. Germany shot that down as inaccurate, saying that they had looked into it and, “Every one we’ve been through … moved back to Georgia legitimately.” After Trump called it “crazy” that anyone would move back to Georgia because “they missed it so much,” Germany rebuffed him again: “They moved back in years ago. This was not like something just before the election.”
In another testy exchange, Germany pointedly tells the president that Dominion Voting Systems — a company that makes voting machines and which has been under harsh Trumpworld scrutiny post-election — did not move machines out of Fulton County and never, as Trump asked, “moved the inner parts of the machines and replaced them with other parts.”
After Germany then shot down ballot-shredding claims, Raffensperger attempted to intervene, cautioning the president that his reliance on social media was detrimental to his efforts, saying, “Mr. President, the problem you have with social media, they — people can say anything.”
“Oh, this isn’t social media. This is Trump media,” the president responded. “I don’t care about social media. I couldn’t care less.”
“Social media is Big Tech. Big Tech is on your side, you know,” Trump continued before questioning why Raffensperger was siding with anyone and then reminding him which side he’s supposed to be on. “I don’t even know why you have a side because you should want to have an accurate election,” Trump said. “And you’re a Republican.”
What does this mean for the election?
Given that his legal challenges to the election have struggled in the courts, courting local GOP support in key swing states has been a key tactic for Trump as he continues his effort to assert that Biden is not the president-elect. From the day after the election, it was clear that Trump’s hopes relied on delegitimizing votes in states like Georgia, which went to a Democrat for the first time since 1992 thanks to huge voter turnout in the Atlanta metro region. And because of the way our elections are administered, local and state GOP officials are (at least, hypothetically) positioned to intervene in the results, explaining why Trump has sought their support.
Trying to align himself with other Republicans who seemingly care more about political power than election integrity has, in many cases, worked. As of publication, it’s believed that as many as 140 House Republicans and a dozen GOP Senators may try to use a January 6 joint session of Congress — typically a formality to count electoral college results — to attempt to force a Trump victory through an avenue with a basis in existing law, albeit one even other Republicans believe would be an assault on U.S. democracy as we know it.