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Trump’s Phone Call Makes Senate Votes Difficult


    President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden are campaigning in Georgia Monday ahead of the Senate runoff elections there. Both of the state’s Senate seats are open after indecisive results following voting on November 3.

    This second and final election Tuesday will decide which political party controls the United States Senate for the next two years. Republicans only need to win one seat to have a majority. Democrats have to win both to control the Senate with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as the body’s tie-breaking vote.

    The election follows the release of audio recordings in which President Trump pressures Georgian election officials to overturn the presidential election results in the state.

    FILE - Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger gives an update on the state of the election and ballot count during a news conference at the State Capitol in Atlanta, Georgia, Nov. 6, 2020.
    FILE - Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger gives an update on the state of the election and ballot count during a news conference at the State Capitol in Atlanta, Georgia, Nov. 6, 2020.

    On Saturday, The Washington Post was the first news organization to report and post a recording of Trump’s hour-long phone call with Brad Raffensperger. He is Georgia’s Secretary of State and its top election official.

    Trump, who has refused to accept his defeat, repeatedly asked Raffensperger to change Georgia’s election results. “All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” Trump said. “Because we won the state.”

    Raffensperger said on the phone call, “President Trump, we’ve had several lawsuits, and we’ve had to respond in court to the lawsuits and the contentions. We don’t agree that you have won.”

    Trump confirmed the conversation on Twitter Sunday. His tweet repeated claims of voter fraud. Raffensperger, a member of Trump’s own Republican Party, answered on Twitter: “Respectfully, President Trump: What you’re saying is not true. The truth will come out.”

    The state of Georgia had counted its votes three times before confirming Biden’s win by 11,779 votes. The victory gave Biden the state’s 16 Electoral College votes. Biden officially won the presidency with 306 electoral votes over 232 for Trump. Only 270 electoral votes are needed to win.

    Efforts to overturn Biden elections

    Trump’s effort to overturn results of the November 3 presidential elections went beyond his phone call to Georgia officials.

    Since Nov. 4, the Trump campaign and supporters have disputed election results, launching more than 50 legal actions. None saw success in court.

    December 8 is known as the safe harbor deadline. On that day, all 50 American states and Washington, DC had certified electors who would vote for the winner of the presidential election. On Dec. 14, the 538 members of the Electoral College confirmed 306 votes for Joe Biden as the country’s next president.

    American laws say the U.S. Congress cannot dispute any electors named by the safe harbor deadline. However, Trump has asked 12 Republican senators and nearly 100 Republican members of the House of Representatives to reject the Electoral College votes on Jan. 6, the day Congress meets to declare the winner.

    Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas launched an effort in support of Trump’s request.

    Hawley wrote that he could not confirm the electoral college results on Jan. 6. Some states, in his words, “failed to follow their own state election laws.” He singled out Pennsylvania as one of those states.

    Republican Pat Toomey represents Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate. He said in a statement, a “defining feature of a democratic republic is the right of the people to elect their own leaders. The effort by Senators Hawley, Cruz, and others to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in swing states like Pennsylvania directly undermines this right.”

    Toomey added that the claims of fraud were found to be unsupported by evidence. "But the evidence is overwhelming that Joe Biden won this election,” he said.

    Former defense chiefs’ opinion

    In an extraordinary move, all 10 living former U.S. defense secretaries from Republican and Democratic administrations shared their view on the presidential election in The Washington Post. They wrote, “The time for questioning the results has passed; the time for the formal counting of the electoral college votes, as prescribed in the Constitution and statute, has arrived.”

    The 10 defense chiefs include former Vice-President Dick Cheney and the two men who served under Trump, James Mattis and Mark Esper. They also said the military does not have any part to play in the process.

    The Constitution states that a newly-elected president’s term begins on Jan. 20. Joe Biden is expected to be sworn in on that day at noon to become the 46th president of the United States.

    I'm Jonathan Evans. And I'm Caty Weaver.

    Hai Do wrote this story for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.


    Words in This Story

    respond - v. to say or write something as an answer

    contention - n. belief, opinion or idea that is argued or stated

    fraud - n. the crime of using dishonest methods to take something

    swing state - n. a state that sees election results changing from one part to another and back

    undermine - v. to make something weaker or less effective

    overwhelming - adj. very great in number, effect or force

    formal - adj. done in an official and usually public way

    prescribe - v. to make something an official rule

    noon - n. the middle of the day; 12 o'clock in the day time