Breaking News
More () »

'A match going up against a blowtorch.' Raffensperger testifies about pressure, threats from Trump

GA Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's testimony to the Jan. 6 committee was released this week. What's next for Donald Trump?

ATLANTA — For weeks after the 2020 Presidential election, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said former President Donald Trump made threats and pressured state election officials to overturn the results.

In hours of testimony released Tuesday by the United States House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, Raffensperger detailed how his office worked to combat the misinformation spread by the then-President and his allies about Georgia's election.

The 148-page report offered no revelations, but further detailed the lengths to which the Trump campaign targeted Georgia. Raffensperger's testimony was among the latest released by the Jan. 6 committee. He also testified during a live committee hearing earlier this year.

The panel — which was tasked with investigating the events that led to the Jan. 6, 2021 mob attack on the U.S. Capitol — released its final report last week and recommended that the Department of Justice pursue criminal charges against Trump for his role in the riot.

Those recommendations and Raffensperger's testimony could affect other ongoing investigations into the 2020 election. Raffensperger is also a key witness in the Fulton County Special Purpose Grand Jury investigation, which is focused solely on what Trump and his allies did in Georgia in the aftermath of the election.

Media outlets have reported the Fulton grand jury is finalizing its report, which will leave Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to determine if anyone should be charged with a crime.

Raffensperger's deposition transcript and the panel's report adds "new and damning details to the potential criminal case against Trump and his co-conspirators," said Norman Eisen, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute, who has closely followed the proceedings.

Eisen is the former special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during the first Trump impeachment and previously served as President Barack Obama’s ethics czar.

Finding the votes, threats from Trump

Raffensperger testified for hours before the panel in late November 2021.

A large portion of Raffensperger's testimony outlined Georgia election procedures, and the steps election officials across the state took to ensure the results were accurate.

The panel questioned the state's chief election officer on a wide range of topics, ranging from the infamous Jan. 2, 2021 call, when Trump asked Raffensperger to "find" 11,780 votes, to Rudy Giuliani's presentation to state legislators.

Raffensperger's testimony indicates that Trump pressured him and other election officials over his defeat in Georgia.

Trump's alleged efforts include:

  • Trump called Raffensperger an enemy of the people. Raffensperger’s response: “I think he, somewhere in life, has this learned behavior that if he attacks people, makes up stuff, and disparages them that he'll get what he wants.”
  • Trump’s call to find votes fueled social media misinformation and the violent threats that his office received. Raffensperger’s response: “When someone has 80 million Twitter followers and we have on a good day 40,000, it's very difficult with a match going up against a blowtorch.”
  • Raffensperger tied Jan. 6 riot violence to Trump. Raffensperger’s testimony: “I think that people were spun up to just believing the lies that were told to them, and things got out of control. And it's just one of those hinge points in American history.”
  • Trump used calls to pressure Raffensperger and chief investigator Frances Watson. Raffensperger refused to return calls from White House Chief of Staff Meadows on multiple occasions before the Jan. 2 call.

"I understood the positional power that the President of the United States of America has, and I heard what he was saying. And so I heard what he said, but I also knew that we followed the law, we followed the Constitution. And he was alleging, really, accusing of us of doing something illegal, something criminal, but knew we followed the law. It was a hollow threat, but it was, I feel, a threat," Raffensperger testified.

The call with Lindsey Graham

Raffensperger has previously said the U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham hinted the state should try to throw out some ballots. Graham has denied those allegations.

In his testimony before the Jan. 6 committee, Raffensperger was less direct about Graham's alleged actions. Georgia's top election official said Graham called to ask about absentee ballot signature matching in Fulton County.

Graham mentioned a process credit card companies use to verify signatures, suggesting that the same process be used on 150,000 absentee ballots from Fulton County, according to the document.

Raffensperger told the panel that the suggestion made him "uncomfortable."

"I didn't know where this was going to lead," he said. "My concern was, would you be disenfranchising voters when the ballots have already been accepted by the county process?"

Raffensperger told Graham he'd talk with attorneys at the Secretary of State's office, but he never spoke with the senator about it again.

Mark Meadows and Cobb County

Raffensperger also told the panel the about Meadows' surprise visit to Cobb County. Meadows came to observe an an audit of absentee ballot signatures.

The secretary of state's office and GBI investigators examined 15,000 absentee ballot signatures and found only two that were mistakenly signed by the elector’s spouse.

Raffensperger testified that he had no communication with Meadows prior to his unannounced visit. Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs and investigator Watson met the top Trump official in Cobb County. Raffensperger said it was his understanding that Meadows wasn't allowed in the room during the audit.

"I believe he thought that, you know, by him showing up, that he was going to be allowed into that meeting room," Raffensperger testified. "But we were very clear that this was an ongoing investigation and, therefore, it wouldn't be appropriate for him to be inside that room."

What does Jan. 6 committee report/testimony mean for the Fulton grand jury?

Eisen, who spoke with 11Alive Wednesday afternoon, was the lead author of a Brookings Institute report from November that claims Trump is "at substantial risk of criminal prosecution in Fulton County."

The Jan. 6 committee's final report and testimony like Raffensperger's provide more detail about Trump's alleged activity in Georgia. The report will likely overlap with some of the Fulton County Special Purpose Grand Jury's findings, Eisen said.

"The (Jan. 6) committee takes us through day-by-day, step-by-step, call-by-call and contact-by-contact with the blizzard of activity targeting Georgia," he said. "We now have a much more complete picture."


Before You Leave, Check This Out