Trump pressured Georgia to ‘find the fraud’ in earlier call

In this Dec. 12, 2020, file photo President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington before boarding Marine One. Unemployment benefits for millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet were set to lapse at midnight Saturday night unless Trump signed an end-of-year COVID relief and spending bill that had been considered a done deal before his sudden objections. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

ATLANTA (AP) — While election officials in Georgia were verifying signatures on absentee ballot envelopes in one metro-Atlanta county, President Donald Trump pressured the lead investigator to “find the fraud” and said it would make the investigator a national hero.

The December call, described by a person familiar with it who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to describe the sensitive nature of the discussion, preceded Trump’s Jan. 2 call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger where he asked election officials to “find” enough votes to overturn Joe Biden’s win in the state’s presidential election.

The call was first reported Saturday by The Washington Post.

The call to the investigator occurred as election officials were conducting an audit of signatures on absentee ballot envelopes in Cobb County. The audit eventually identified only two minor issues out of more than 15,000 signatures reviewed.

Trump has for months made false claims about Georgia’s signature verification process and about the results of the November election, which he lost to Biden in Georgia by about 12,000 votes.

Various election officials across the country and Trump’s former attorney general, William Barr, have said there was no widespread fraud in the election.