ATLANTA — Georgia elections officials said their description of a much-scrutinized phone call between Donald Trump and a top investigator wasn’t meant to be presented as a “word-for-word transcript” after a recording of the call revealed the former president was misquoted.
Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday that the office’s initial report about the conversation between Trump and Frances Watson, the chief investigator, relied on Watson’s recollection.
A recording of the conversation, located on a trash folder in Watson’s email account during an open records request, was released last week. It revealed that Trump told Watson she would find “dishonesty” if she scrutinized absentee ballots in Fulton County and that she had the “most important job in the country right now.”
“When the right answer comes out, you’ll be praised,” Trump told Watson.
Earlier reporting by the AJC and other news organizations misquoted the exact words that Trump used to urge Watson to act based on Fuchs’ account of the conversation. The former president did not urge Watson to “find the fraud” and did not promise she would become a “national hero.”
“After hearing the tape, it’s clear that her recollection accurately portrayed the president’s assertions that there was fraud to uncover and that she would receive praise for doing so,” Fuchs said.
The call with Watson is separate from a Jan. 2 conversation between Trump and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger now at the center of a Fulton County grand jury investigation. In that call, Trump repeatedly urged Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to reverse his defeat.
In a statement Monday, Trump called the scrutiny part of a “Georgia Witch Hunt” and repeated false claims of widespread election fraud. Georgia’s election results were upheld by three separate counts, and challenges to the outcome were dismissed by courts at every level.
Here’s the full statement from Fuchs:
“The Secretary of State’s Office’s first report about its investigator’s phone conversation with President Trump relied on the investigator’s recollection. Information about the content of the call was never presented as a word-for-word transcript. After hearing the tape, it’s clear that her recollection accurately portrayed the president’s assertions that there was fraud to uncover and that she would receive praise for doing so.”