Why Brad Raffensperger and Georgia could play a pivotal role in Jan 6 hearings
Raffensperger has since the 2020 elections publicly defended Georgia's election integrity despite attacks from the former president
Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, who is subpoenaed by the House select committee investigating the Jan 6 riot, is expected to testify at a hearing later this month. The public testimony comes after Raffensperger appeared last week, on June 2, in a closed-door special grand jury investigation in Fulton County that is seeking to determine if former President Donald Trump and his allies violated several state laws in their efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Gabriel Sterling, the deputy secretary, and others from the secretary of state's office are also scheduled to testify this month.
Raffensperger's came into the limelight after the 2020 election when he resisted former president Trump's alleged efforts to pressure him to "find" the votes necessary for Trump to win Georgia, according to an audio recording of a phone call obtained by CNN in January 2021. In excerpts of the one-hour phone call, Trump criticized his fellow Republican for refusing to falsely say that he won the election in Georgia and repeatedly touted baseless claims of election fraud. Trump said, "The people of Georgia are angry, the people of the country are angry. And there's nothing wrong with saying that, you know, um, that you've recalculated." In response to this, Raffensperger replied, "Well, Mr President, the challenge that you have is, the data you have is wrong."
"So, look," Trump had said. "All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes," or more votes than President Biden received in Georgia. In fact, Trump had said in a Jan 20, 2021 statement, "My phone call to the Secretary of State of Georgia was perfect."
The former president also claimed during the call that votes in the state were scanned three times, an allegation Raffensperger rebuffed, saying, "We did an audit of that and we proved conclusively that they were not scanned three times." A day after the Trump-Raffensperger call was publicized, the former president blasted Georgia's top Republican officials at a rally, promising to campaign "against your governor and your crazy secretary of state" in the midterm elections for failing to illegally overturn the 2020 results. Raffensperger has since publicly defended Georgia's election integrity despite attacks from the former president. In May, Raffensperger easily won a primary against a Trump-backed challenger.
Key details in Georgia
As per reports by WSB-TV, many lawmakers are trying to uncover the happenings at the Georgia State Capitol. University of Georgia political science professor Dr Charles Bullock thinks the committee will have something big planned early to grab and hold their national audience. “My guess is they’re going to pull some rabbit out of the hat and ... introduce us to some new information that we haven’t heard, and they’ll have some videos, I understand, that we haven’t seen,” he said.
As per the reports, they are also looking to see if the Georgia’s Republican party meeting of false electors at the state capitol was part of a larger plan to overturn the results of the presidential election.
The committee is expected to release its findings in a report in September.
The role of Brad Raffensperger and Georgia in the Jan 6 hearings
Raffensperger’s appearance is likely to also accompany testimony from other state and local election officials who have discussed threats and pressure from the former president to support his claims of fraud. Raffensperger’s account is likely to be the most direct evidence of Trump’s personal engagement in his effort to flip the results of the election, something which local prosecutors are also looking into. Experts believe that the Georgia Secretary of State could be one of the most significant legal threats facing the former president and his testimony could also play a crucial role in any potential charging decisions.
Raffensperger's office has provided congressional investigators with many important documents related to the 2020 election, including text messages from then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows trying to set up calls with the White House after the election. These documents also include email communication between his staff and the office of Sen. Lindsey Graham, who took part in a phone call with Raffensperger that ended with the senator suggesting that some ballots should be tossed, reports Politico.