The Republican lieutenant governor of Georgia said Monday that President Donald Trump's phone call with Secretary of State Brad Ratffensperger, in which the president appeared to pressure the secretary to "find" enough votes to overturn Joe Biden's electoral victory, was "inappropriate" and that he was "disappointed" at the president's conduct.
"I am 100% certified to tell you that it was inappropriate. And it certainly did not help the situation," Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan said on CNN's "New Day." "It was based on misinformation, it was based on, you know, all types of theories that have been debunked and disproved over the course of the last 10 weeks."
The Washington Post on Sunday published a four-minute excerpt of what was reportedly an hour-long phone conversation between the president and Georgia's top election official. In the transcript of the call, partially published by Newsmax, Trump made several claims of voter fraud and other election irregularities, said there were approximately "300,000 fake ballots," and put pressure on Ratffensperger to "give me a break" and find enough fraudulent ballots, approximately 12,000, to change the results of the election. In response, Raffensperger and his attorney, Ryan Germany, disputed the president's claims, arguing that the data the president cited is incorrect and that the vote numbers certified by the state of Georgia are accurate, not fraudulent.
The report of the phone call immediately sparked controversy, with several former top U.S. officials suggesting that Trump had potentially committed a crime while the president's supporters demanded that the full audio of the phone call be released to put Trump's words in context.
Duncan, who supported Trump's campaign for re-election, also said he was "disappointed" at the president's questions for Ratffensperger and the tone the president used. He worries that the controversy will distract from the runoff Senate elections in Georgia on Tuesday, harming Republican chances for victory.
"I've continued to encourage everybody, including the president, to stay focused on tomorrow," Duncan said. "That phone call did absolutely nothing to help drive turnout for Republicans here in Georgia for Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. I was disappointed and quite honestly I can't imagine anybody on his staff encouraging that call or not giving him the advice to hang up and move on to the next subject."
Sens. Loeffler and Perdue each face tough re-election challenges from Democratic candidates who feel the wind at their backs as Republican enthusiasm to vote is tamped down by a sense that GOP officials are not doing enough to support and provide evidence for Trump's claims of voter fraud. The Trump campaign and others filed more than 50 lawsuits in the wake of the presidential election, nearly all of which were either dismissed by the courts or dropped because of a lack of evidence to support claims of election misconduct.