Live politics updates: Raffensperger says probe of Trump call by Fulton County DA call would be ‘appropriate’

William Cummings
 
| USA TODAY

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President Trump pressures Ga. Sec. of State to ‘find’ votes

In a recorded phone call, President Trump is heard pressuring Ga. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to ‘find’ votes to reverse his loss.

Staff Video, USA TODAY

The year 2020 may now be behind us, but we aren’t done with the 2020 election just yet.

This week, the new Congress gets to work, two runoff elections in Georgia Tuesday will determine control of the Senate, and President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory will be certified by Congress. Biden also still has a few Cabinet picks to announce – including his nominee for Attorney General – as he plans for his inauguration. 

Here are the upcoming dates to watch:

  • Tuesday: Senate runoff election in Georgia.
  • Wednesday: Congress will count and certify the electoral results in a joint session.
  • Jan. 20: Inauguration of Biden, who will take the oath of office.

Be sure to refresh this page often to get the latest information on the transition.

Raffensperger says DA probe of Trump call would be ‘appropriate’

Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said it would be “appropriate” for the Fulton County district attorney to investigate President Donald Trump’s request that he “find” enough votes to make him the winner of the state’s presidential election, which he lost to President-elect Joe Biden by nearly 12,000 votes. 

On Sunday, The Washington Post released a recording of the hourlong conversation Trump had the day before with Raffensperger. In the call, Trump repeats several previously debunked claims of voter fraud to argue why Raffensperger should “recalculate” the vote total, which was certified after both manual and machine recounts. 

“All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” Trump told Raffensperger. “Because we won the state.”

The president also baselessly warned the Republican state official that he could be committing “a criminal offense” by not acting on the unproven fraud claims. 

Fact check: Trump’s made-up claims of fake Georgia votes in controversial phone call

The New York Times reported that the call was the 19th made to Raffensperger’s office from the White House switchboard since the Nov. 3 election. Raffensperger did not dispute that number when asked about it Monday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“I never believed it was appropriate to speak with the president. But he pushed out – and I guess he had his staff push us and they wanted the call,” Raffensperger said, explaining he had been reluctant to speak to the president because they were still involved in litigation related to the election. “But we took the call and we had a conversation. He did most of the talking, we did most of the listening, but I did want to make my points that the data that he has is just plain wrong.” 

When asked if he planned to open a criminal investigation into the call, he said he would have a conflict of interest, but added, “I understand that the Fulton County district attorney wants to look at it. Maybe that’s the appropriate venue for it to go.” 

When asked if he thought Trump’s request to change the vote total was illegal, Raffensperger said, “I’m not a lawyer.” 

“All I know is that we’re going to follow the law, follow the process. Truth matters, and we’ve been fighting these rumors for the past two months,” he said. 

Raffensperger has said he voted for Trump. When asked if he would vote for the president again, Raffensperger replied, “I support Republicans. I always have, I probably always will.” 

When pressed he said, “Well, President Trump is not on the ballot in 2024 right now, so we’ll just have to wait and see what would happen.” 

– William Cummings 

Reports: Trump to give Reps. Devin Nunes, Jim Jordan the Medal of Freedom

President Donald Trump plans to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Reps. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, according to reports from Axios and The Washington Post. 

Nunes and Jordan zealously defended the president amid both his impeachment and former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference. 

Trump plans to award Nunes with the medal, the nation’s highest civilian honor, on Monday, according to the reports. Axios and the Post said Jordan was expected to be honored sometime next week. 

Trump said in October 2018 that he thought Nunes deserved the award, though he mistakenly first referred to it as the Medal of Honor. Trump said Nunes had earned it for defending him through the allegations that his campaign had colluded with the Kremlin. 

“What he’s gone through, and his bravery, he should get a very important medal,” Trump said. 

In May 2020, he praised both Jordan and Nunes, who he said “wouldn’t stop” trying to defend him. 

“You deserve a medal. You deserve the equivalent of Pulitzer Prizes,” Trump told the congressmen. “They ought to take the Pulitzer Prize away from all of these phony journalists that got a Pulitzer Prize.”

Critics, however, say both men used obfuscation and deception as they sought to protect the White House from scrutiny. Those critics were disturbed by the reports of Trump’s plan to honor his two congressional allies. 

“I feel for all the great Americans who have received the Medal of Freedom over the decades. What’s next, spray painting MAGA on the WH walls?” tweeted David Axelrod, a former adviser to President Barack Obama.

– William Cummings

Trump and Biden to stump in Georgia on eve of Senate runoffs 

President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden are scheduled to travel to Georgia Monday to support their parties’ respective candidates in Georgia’s two runoff elections that will determine control of the U.S. Senate. 

Trump is scheduled to appear with Davide Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, the two Republican Senate incumbents who failed to win a majority of the vote on Nov. 3, while Biden will stump for their Democratic opponents, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. 

Because the 116th Congress ended Sunday, Loeffler and Perdue are not sitting senators and whether they return for the new session hinges on the outcome of Tuesday’s races. Polling indicates a tight race for both Senate seats and while Democrats appear to have an edge in early voting returns, Republicans are counting on a massive in-person turnout on Tuesday. 

More: Kamala Harris blasts Trump’s call to Raffensberger in return to Georgia to help clinch Senate runoff races

But Trump has cast doubts on the integrity of Georgia’s elections, last week calling the runoff elections “illegal and invalid,” which some Republicans fear could discourage Trump’s ardent supporters from turning out to vote. And on Sunday, the race was further complicated when The Washington Post released a recording of a phone in which Trump pressured Georgia Secretary of State to “recalculate” the results of the Nov. 3 election and to “find” enough votes to make him the winner. 

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris was in Savannah Sunday, campaigning for Ossoff and Warnock just after the news of Trump’s extraordinary call broke. 

“Have y’all heard about that recorded conversation? Well, it was certainly the voice of desperation, most certainly that,” Harris told onlookers during the drive-in rally. “And it was a bald-faced, bold abuse of power by the president of the United States.”

– William Cummings and Phillip Bailey 

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