An audio recording that forced multiple major news outlets to issue corrections to stories that attributed fraudulent quotes to former President Donald Trump was reportedly found on the device of the chief investigator of the Georgia secretary of state’s office.
Trump made a call to the chief investigator, Frances Watson, on Dec. 23 to discuss alleged fraud in the 2020 election, asking her to look into votes cast in Fulton County, Georgia, especially. Reports of the call published the next month by The Washington Post, CNN, and others quoted Trump as telling Watson to “find the fraud” and claiming she would be a “national hero” if she did.
An audio recording of the call published last week showed that Trump made neither statement, debunking news outlets’ claims that were sourced back to a single anonymous source.
The recording of the call was obtained through an open records request to the Georgia secretary of state’s office. Officials reportedly located the file in a trash folder on Watson’s device, according to CNN. As the outlet reported on Monday:
Officials in the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office located a recently released recording of former President Donald Trump’s call to a state investigator in a trash folder on her device, a state official familiar with the situation confirmed to CNN.
The discovery of the call comes after state officials originally told CNN that they did not think audio of the call existed. The call added to the examples of Trump’s extraordinary efforts to push false claims of widespread voter fraud and influence Georgia election officials as they certified the state’s election results.
The audio file of the December 23 call between the former President and investigator Frances Watson was discovered as the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office responded to a public records request. The personal familiar spoke with CNN on the condition of anonymity to describe the internal process.
Trump responded to the media scandal in a statement on Monday. The former president thanked the Post, the first outlet to publish the fraudulent quotes, for correcting the story while accusing the larger media of having bias that against Republicans.
“You will notice that establishment media errors, omissions, mistakes, and outright lies always slant one way — against me and against Republicans. Meanwhile, stories that hurt Democrats or undermine their narratives are buried, ignored, or delayed until they can do the least harm — for example, after an election is over,” Trump said.
“Look no further than the negative coverage of the vaccine that preceded the election and the overdue celebration of the vaccine once the election had concluded. A strong democracy requires a fair and honest press,” he added. “This latest media travesty underscores that legacy media outlets should be regarded as political entities — not journalistic enterprises. In any event, I thank the Washington Post for the correction.”