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- Donald Trump spoke to Frances Watson, an investigator with the Georgia secretary of state, in December 2020. He encouraged her to investigate ballots cast, particularly in Fulton County, a recording of their call shows.
- Trump also spoke to David Ralston, then the Republican Georgia House speaker, in December 2020. Trump wanted Ralston to call a special session to overturn Trump’s loss.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported about the Ralston call by interviewing members of the special grand jury who said they heard the call.
Weeks before he failed to persuade Georgia's secretary of state to "find" enough votes to swing the election in his favor, Donald Trump called up two other Georgia officials with some different ideas.
His separate December 2020 phone calls with election investigator Frances Watson and then-House Speaker David Ralston, who died in 2022, have also been reviewed by the Fulton County district attorney investigating Trump's efforts to overturn election results in Georgia.
Voters might not be as familiar with those calls as they are with what he told Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. So we reviewed the substance about them. We have a recording of the call with Watson but not with Ralston.
Here’s a look at what we know about those two phone calls.
The exact date of Trump’s call with Watson isn’t clear, but it was in December 2020 before Christmas. Trump and Watson exchanged Christmas greetings.
The Wall Street Journal in 2021 published audio of the six-minute phone call.
The conversation was friendly. Watson told Trump that she "very appreciated" his call, and Trump praised her work. Watson did not push back on any of Trump’s false allegations.
Trump told Watson, "I won everything but Georgia. And, you know, and I won Georgia. I know that. By a lot. And the people know it. And, you know, something happened. Something bad happened."
A few of Trump’s words in the Watson call are inaudible, and his requests for an investigation were vague. He seemed to focus on signature verification for mail ballots, particularly in Fulton County.
Trump said if Watson went back two or four years she would "see it's a totally different signature" and "hopefully when the right answer comes out you'll be praised." Fulton County, he said, was the "motherload."
Watson said officials were investigating allegations.
"I can assure you that our team, and the GBI (Georgia Bureau of Investigation), that we're only interested in the truth," she said. "And finding the information that's based on the facts. We've been working 12-, 16-hour days."
Trump praised Watson: "You just have the most important job in the country right now, because if we win Georgia — first of all, if we win, you're going to have two wins."
Trump asked Watson if investigators would "be working after Christmas, to keep it going fast? Because, you know, we have that date of the 6th, which is a very important date." Congress was set to certify the Electoral College results Jan. 6, 2021.
"I know you've got that coming up," Watson said. "And I can assure you that I'm going to be working, and we're going to be working."
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, met Watson and got her phone number during a December 2020 visit at the Cobb County Civic Center, where a ballot review was taking place.
What we know about the phone call between Ralston, the Republican House speaker, and Trump comes from an Atlanta Journal-Constitution report in March.
The newspaper interviewed five of 23 special grand jurors who agreed to speak on the condition that they not be named. Grand jury proceedings are secret, and the audio of the phone call has not been published.
The special grand jury convened in 2022 and submitted their report about their findings to Fani Willis, Fulton County district attorney, in January. It will be up to a regular grand jury, convening this summer, to issue an indictment.
The newspaper wrote that the special grand jury heard Trump ask Ralston to convene a special session of the state assembly to overturn Trump’s loss to Biden. No such special session occurred.
Ralston "basically cut the president off," one juror told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. ‘"He said, ‘I will do everything in my power that I think is appropriate.’ … He just basically took the wind out of the sails."
"‘Well, thank you,’ you know, is all the president could say," the juror said.
NBC followed the report by interviewing the jury's foreperson, Emily Kohrs, who confirmed that the special grand jury heard the Ralston-Trump call. Kohrs said the call was about 10 minutes long.
Trump asked Ralston who would stop him from holding a special session. According to Kohrs, Ralston responded, "A federal judge, that’s who."
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, EXCLUSIVE: Behind the scenes of Trump grand jury; jurors hear 3rd leaked Trump call, March 16, 2023
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Trump probe: Cobb elections chief to testify, legislators await subpoenas, June 1o, 2022
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Ralston testifies before Fulton grand jury investigating 2020 election, July 15, 2022
The Wall Street Journal, Trump call to Georgia lead investigator reveals new details, updated March 11, 2021
Business Insider, Trump pressured another Georgia elections official, Frances Watson, to uncover nonexistent voter fraud, March 10, 2021