“If he feels threatened by that conversation, he’s got a problem,” Graham said. “I actually thought it was a good conversation.”
A good conversation. It is hard to miss the uncomfortable echo of Trump’s claim that he was impeached for a “perfect phone call,” in which he pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in 2019 to dig up dirt on Biden’s son.
But at least in Trump’s case, it was not hard to see why he and Zelensky would have been on the phone. Heads of government speak to each other all the time.
Why in the world was Graham, who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, nosing around in the ballot-counting process of a state he doesn’t even represent?
Raffensperger, it should be noted, is a conservative who says he has never voted for a Democrat. In his 2018 runoff election, Trump endorsed him in a tweet as someone who would be “a fantastic Secretary of State for Georgia.” The president praised Raffensperger, an engineer and state legislator, as “tough on Crime and Borders, Loves our Military and Vets. He will be great for jobs!”
When Raffensperger received a message on Friday that Graham had called him, he told “CBS This Morning” on Tuesday, he assumed that the South Carolina senator wanted to discuss the Jan. 5 runoff races for both of Georgia’s Senate seats. So he returned the call.
Raffensperger said he was surprised to discover that Graham wanted instead to talk about the ongoing audit of the presidential race and the state law that matches signatures to mail ballots to assure their legitimacy. According to what Raffensperger told my Post colleague Amy Gardner in an interview, Graham raised a conspiracy theory that suggested biased poll workers might have accepted ballots with nonmatching signatures.
The implication was stunning and impossible to miss. Raffensperger told Gardner that Graham was urging him to find a way to toss legally cast ballots, something the secretary of state does not have the power to do, absent court intervention, even if he were so inclined. “It sure looked like he was wanting to go down that road,” Raffensperger said.
He said he didn’t argue with Graham. “I really just got off the call, and I said I would circle back,” Raffensperger told CBS News. After speaking with his counsel, he decided “not to get back and re-engage.”
On Tuesday, the senator told reporters on Capitol Hill that he has also spoken about vote-counting procedures with officials in Arizona and Nevada out of concern about election integrity.
For doing his job according to the law in the 2020 election, Raffensperger has been subjected to abuse and even, he says, death threats. Georgia’s two Republican senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, have called on him to resign. All of this is, no doubt, spurred by claims from the president himself that the election is being stolen from him.
It isn’t. Biden won. He did it by not only flipping Georgia from red to blue but also amassing 306 electoral votes and a popular-vote margin that stands at upward of 5.6 million votes and is growing. This is not a landslide — though Trump declared that reaching the exact same total of electoral votes in 2016 was one — but it is also not a particularly close result.
Raffensperger has expressed confidence that the ultimate tally certified in Georgia will confirm that the election in his state was conducted with integrity.
“As a Republican, I wish the results would go another way, but I think that at the end of the day, what you’re going to see is this audit is going to verify what the machines counted and then we’ll certify,” he said Tuesday.
No matter what your political leanings, this should be a cause for celebration that our democracy is sound and fair. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for some of those who are elected under that system.