Former President Donald Trump appeared to have a Georgia obsession after the 2020 election loss that ended his White House tenure. Despite a pandemic and efforts to suppress the vote, Georgia saw record turnout in 2020 that propelled Joe Biden’s victory in the state and became the focus of a campaign of false allegations of mass voter fraud pushed by Trump and his allies.
While Trump’s frequent false claims about voter fraud were directed anywhere he lost, he devoted much of his attention to Georgia, where he repeatedly appealed to state officials in an apparent effort to undermine the state’s election results. In a Jan. 2 call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the audio from which was published by the Washington Post, Trump pressured Raffensperger’s office to “find” him votes.
“All I want to do is this: I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” Trump said, referencing the number of votes he would need to overtake then-President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state. “There’s nothing wrong with saying, you know, that you’ve recalculated.” A week later, it was reported that Trump had made a similar push in a call with a Georgia election investigator the previous month, directing the investigator to “find the fraud.”
On Feb. 10, as Trump’s second impeachment trial was underway in the U.S. Senate, prosecutors in Fulton County, Georgia’s most populous county, opened a criminal investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn the state’s election results, including his call with Raffensperger. Earlier that week, Raffensperger’s office had begun a fact-finding inquiry into the call in response to related complaints.
American Oversight filed requests for records that could shed light on these and other attempts to undermine or overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results, including records from the office of Georgia’s secretary of state, governor, and attorney general.
American Oversight has also filed federal Freedom of Information Act requests about the Jan. 4 resignation of Byung J. Pak, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. News reports suggested Pak was forced out by the White House because Trump felt Pak wasn’t doing enough to investigate baseless voter fraud claims. We’re seeking Pak’s calendars and his communications with Justice Department or White House officials, as well as Justice Department communications about the appointment of U.S. Attorney Bobby Christine as Pak’s acting replacement, which bypassed a top career prosecutor.
Long before Trump’s claims of a stolen election, though, efforts were already underway to undermine public confidence in the election’s integrity — we sued for records of the state’s voter fraud task force, and the lack of substantive information in the state’s response revealed the task force to be another way of promoting false narratives about widespread voter fraud.
This investigation is part of American Oversight’s look into state-level threats to democracy as well as our larger effort to track attempts to undermine the 2020 election results.