Fox News host Martha MacCallum grilled Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Monday evening over a phone call that he had with President Donald Trump that was later leaked to The Washington Post.
The phone call was leaked with less than 48 hours before voters head to the polls in Georgia to decide the fate of which party controls the U.S. Senate for the next two years.
Transcript and video below:
MACCALLUM: So, why did you decide to take the phone call this time? What was different this time?
RAFFENSPERGER: I didn’t know it was being recorded.
I just was at my home with my wife. And I had it on speakerphone. But I didn’t record anything at my house. But I was making notes. But, also, then on Sunday morning, he put out a Twitter. I thought we had a private conversation, just not — left unsaid that it was private, but I just thought it was man to man, just having a conversation, and so — with the president of the United States. But then he goes out on Twitter the next morning and says stuff that’s not true. First of all, he releases that we did have a conversation. So, I didn’t see what the issue was. Then, obviously, we did have a conversation. The whole world knows.
He’s got 80 million Twitter followers. But then he also says stuff that wasn’t true and that…
MACCALLUM: All right, so, understood. So…
RAFFENSPERGER: … I was respectful in that.
MACCALLUM: OK. Obviously, you have a big difference of opinion on the way that the vote went in November. But I’m just very curious. We are 24 hours away from an election. So, what was the discussion? You say you didn’t realize that the phone call was recorded. At what point did you become aware that the phone call was recorded? And tell us about the decision to release the phone call, the audio of the phone call to “The Washington Post.”
RAFFENSPERGER: I think it was after Sunday, when the Twitter came out. I didn’t see it, or — anyway, I became aware of it. And, anyway, so that’s — recording is out there. And now people can look at what was the entirety of the comments that were said. And then they can see what he said versus what I said. And we…
MACCALLUM: But were you consulted? And did you OK the release of the phone call? Did you say, OK, let’s go ahead and release the audio of the phone call?
RAFFENSPERGER: The information is out there. And it is what it is.
MACCALLUM: That’s not an answer to my question. Are you going to answer my question? Did you — were you aware of the decision and were you in favor of the decision to release the phone call, sir?
RAFFENSPERGER: I think that we had to respond to the president’s Twitter. And we responded with the facts that were in the call. And that’s how it got out there.
RAFFENSPERGER: So, now the world can just see what was in there. They can just make up their own decisions, listen to the whole thing, both sides of the aisle, right down the middle.
RAFFENSPERGER: And they can make their own decisions.
MACCALLUM: All right. So, I mean, that’s pretty clear that you were aware that it was going to be released and that you were OK with it. What about the impact on the two Senate elections? Because this has provided, in Governor Kemp’s own words, a distraction to the election, when the focus, he believes, should be on David Perdue, who called the release of this disgusting, and Kelly Loeffler. How do you feel about the fact that releasing the phone call has taken up so much of the oxygen in a very important period of time before the election?
RAFFENSPERGER: Well, the issues that President Trump has been raising about all of his contentions that he didn’t have a fair vote here in Georgia, that has been a major distraction for the two senators being able to run their race. In fact, he’s, in effect, been suppressing Republican turnout. And so, we need to really have a strong Republican turnout. I think — believe that, if you listen to that tape, you will believe that President Trump’s big focus is not tomorrow. It’s actually Wednesday, January 6.
MACCALLUM: Well, I mean, that may be what his focus is, and we’re going to learn more when we see him at the rally this evening. But I just want to ask you once again to respond specifically to Senator Perdue, who said that he thought it was inappropriate and disgusting to release this audio. What — how do you respond to him on that charge?
RAFFENSPERGER: Senator Perdue still owes my wife an apology for all the death threats she got after he asked for my resignation. And I have not heard one peep from that man since. If he wants to call me face to face, man to man, I will talk to him off the record. But he hasn’t done that.
MACCALLUM: So, do you think — it feels like this is very much about a grudge and…
RAFFENSPERGER: It’s not a grudge at all.
MACCALLUM: Between you and the president, and between you and Mr. Perdue, that…
RAFFENSPERGER: It’s really about getting — Martha, it’s really about getting the facts out, because we just did a press release today. We did…
RAFFENSPERGER: President Trump probably had eight to 10 points. Every one of his numbers were wrong. And we have a poster board of all the different numbers, the actual numbers, the real numbers that we have versus what they have. And our numbers will be supported in a court of law. Their numbers will not be.