Kanye West, Donald Trump and the effort to overturn the 2020 results in Georgia

“Hey Brad, why wouldn’t you want to check out Ruby Freeman?” Trump asked.

On the afternoon of Jan. 2, President Donald Trump called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in a futile, last-ditch attempt to reverse his electoral loss in the state precisely two months prior, The Washington Post’s Philip Bump reports.

The call will be an eternal fixture in history books for its bluntness. At one point, Trump explicitly pressed Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes,” a total that he helpfully added was “one more than we have” after the vote was counted and recounted. Trump threw out a blizzard of false claims about fraud and irregularities, claims that were dismantled the following day in a news conference by a member of Raffensperger’s team.

Georgia was a particular focus of Trump’s at that point. The day after his call with Raffensperger, he hosted a remarkable meeting in the Oval Office in which he mulled ousting his acting attorney general in favor of a Justice Department official, Jeffrey Clark, who was pushing to send a letter to Georgia making the unsubstantiated claim that federal investigators had found evidence of fraud in the state.

“Hey Brad, why wouldn’t you want to check out Ruby Freeman?” Trump asked. It was one of more than a dozen references to Freeman, an election worker in Georgia’s Fulton County, that Trump made in the call. Freeman was one of the individuals seen in a surveillance video from State Farm Arena that went viral after the election, in which poll workers were shown running ballots through a vote-counting machine. That activity was cast as depicting illegal vote-counting, which was not true. But in his grasping effort to retain power, the accuracy of information was never a powerful constraint for Trump.

The effect on Freeman was severe. She and her daughter, who was working with her, were the targets of repeated harassment by Trump supporters who falsely accused her of cheating on Joe Biden’s behalf. A concocted “confession” circulated online in which claims about undermining the vote in “racist Georgia” were attributed to her. She was forced to repeatedly appeal to local law enforcement for protection.

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