Former President Donald Trump directly pressured former Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) weeks after he lost the 2020 presidential race in the state to now-President Joe Biden, according to new reporting from The Washington Post.
It was previously known that Trump had contacted Ducey, as the former governor had said at the time that then-President Trump called him to discuss the election results. But the extent to which Trump sought to have Ducey change the election wasn’t known prior to this weekend.
The Post spoke to three sources with knowledge of the call from Trump to Ducey. According to one prominent GOP donor who spoke directly to Ducey about the matter, Trump’s conversation with Ducey felt like “pressure” from the president to take improper actions that would overturn the election results in the state.
Trump urged Ducey to uncover fraudulent Biden votes in order to help him overcome Biden’s election win, according to The Post’s reporting.
Several audits and post-election checks by state and county officials in Arizona have confirmed that there was no widespread fraud in the statewide election, despite Trump’s repeated claims suggesting otherwise.
The conversation between Trump and Ducey echoed a phone call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which Trump sought to compel the Republican elections official to “find” him nearly 12,000 additional votes to overturn the presidential election results in that state, which Biden also won. Unlike Ducey’s conversation with Trump, however, that conversation was recorded, and has since been made publicly available.
Trump also tried to enlist his vice president, Mike Pence, to call Ducey in order to compel him to overturn the race. Pence did call Ducey several times, but didn’t appear to put the pressure on him to change the election results that Trump did.
Ducey also recounted to the GOP donor he spoke with that it surprised him that special counsel Jack Smith, who is leading a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn the election, hadn’t yet contacted him about his conversation with the former president. It’s unclear whether Smith or his office has contacted Ducey since the conversation between him and the donor, which took place earlier this year.
While an ongoing investigation in Georgia could result in Trump being handed state felony charges, Trump’s actions in the state could also run afoul of federal laws. According to 52 U.S. Code 20511, a crime is committed if a person “knowingly and willfully deprives, defrauds, or attempts to deprive or defraud the residents of a State of a fair and impartially conducted election process” through unjustified alteration of the tabulation of ballots.
Political and legal observers noted that Ducey’s recents comments about Trump pressuring him to overturn the 2020 race were likely to be noticed by Smith and the DOJ.
“It seems likely that the special counsel’s office saw the Post’s front-page, above-the-fold article,” said MSNBC producer Steve Benen.
Ducey’s statements — and possible cooperation with the DOJ in the future — might encourage other governors or state elections officials to speak up, especially in light of recent charges Trump has already received from the department over his improper handling of government documents and his impending charges from Smith regarding his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
“Once prosecutions start, witnesses tend to develop confidence in coming forward,” said Joyce Vance, a former federal prosecutor and a current law professor at the University of Alabama. “More chickens coming home to roost.”
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