As we wait for the political show trials of Donald Trump to begin, it’s good to remember a hard and fast rule: Quotes and summaries of events reported by the corporate media are always either half wrong or deliberately misleading.
A perfect example of that truism was provided this week by Axios’ Mike Allen, who claimed Monday that Georgia Democrat prosecutor Fani Willis included an “Easter egg” in her I’m-a-very-serious-lawyer indictment. Allen said that a specific portion of the documents had “a twist” that “could spoil” Trump’s legal team’s effort to have the entire case moved to federal court, a move that could possibly secure him a more favorable jury (as opposed to the pool of “marginalized, underserved and disadvantaged” voters he would surely get in Fulton County).
That “twist” is an open letter Trump sent to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in September 2021, which was after the former president was out of office, thus supposedly undercutting the Trump team’s assertion that the criminal charges are purely federal in nature, rather than addressable at the county court level. In that letter, the indictment notes, Trump solicited Raffensperger to “unlawfully” undo the 2020 election outcome “and announce the true winner.”
Here’s that portion of the indictment in full:
On or about the 17th day of September 2021, DONALD JOHN TRUMP committed the felony offense of SOLICITATION OF VIOLATION OF OATH BY PUBLIC OFFICER, in violation of O.C.G.A. §§ 16-4-7 and 16-10-1, in Fulton County, Georgia, by unlawfully soliciting, requesting, and importuning Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a public officer, to engage in conduct constituting the felony offense of Violation of Oath by Public Officer, O.C.G.A. § 16-10-1, by unlawfully “decertifying the Election, or whatever the correct legal remedy is, and announce the true winner,” in willful and intentional violation of the terms of the oath of said person as prescribed by law, with intent that said person engage in said conduct. This was an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy.
The New York Times on Saturday also reported the supposed “Easter egg,” which the paper said “could spoil Mr. Trump’s argument that he was intervening in the Georgia election as part of his duty as a federal official,” since he was a private citizen and not president at the time that he published the letter.
Whether this is a federal or local-level issue is beside the point. I didn’t even remember that letter to Raffensperger, which was also published in a fundraising email put out by Trump’s Save America PAC. And because of that media rule mentioned above, I went back to find exactly what it said. Naturally, what it actually said is not the way it was portrayed by the indictment nor the way it was portrayed by Fani Willis’ fangirls in the media.
The letter said that new evidence of “Large scale Voter Fraud” in Georgia had been reported in a local newspaper called the Georgia Star News, with an attached article claiming that more than 40,000 absentee ballots counted in DeKalb County were improperly tallied because they had not been documented upon their receipt by the appropriate official, as required by state election rules. “I would respectfully request that your department check this,” Trump wrote in the letter, “and, if true, along with many other claims of voter fraud and voter irregularities, start the process of decertifying the Election, or whatever the correct legal remedy is, and announce the true winner.”
None of that context is in the indictment, nor the Times article, nor the Axios report. And it’s essentially the same request from Trump that he delivered in the now infamous “perfect phone call” he made to Raffensperger and other Georgia election officials in January 2021.
The media enjoy short-handing that hourlong conversation as an effort by Trump to get the secretary of state to fabricate votes. The New York Times ominously wrote at the time that the president “pressured Georgia’s Republican secretary of state to ‘find’ him enough votes to overturn the presidential election and vaguely threatened him with ‘a criminal offense.'”
That’s not what happened there, either. In the call, Trump is audibly frustrated nearly to the point of tears, which is a little embarrassing for him, but the pressure amounts to asking over and over again for Raffensperger and Georgia election officials to examine claims of mass voter fraud, which he believes will uncover enough votes in his favor.
“I think you have to say that you’re going to reexamine it,” Trump says to Raffensperger. “And you can reexamine it, but reexamine it with people that want to find answers, not people that don’t want to find answers.”
“Well, you better check on the ballots because they are shredding ballots, Ryan,” Trump says to one of Raffensperger’s lawyers. “I’m just telling you, Ryan. They’re shredding ballots. And you should look at that very carefully.”
At another point, Trump says, “No, they [all the ballots scanned by a particular poll worker] were 100 percent for Biden— 100 percent. There wasn’t a Trump vote in the whole group. Why don’t you want to find this, Ryan? What’s wrong with you?”
The call ends with Trump stating, “We just want the truth,” which he says is that, “I won by 400,000 votes, at least. That’s the real truth. But we don’t need 400,000 votes. We need less than 2,000 votes.”
As for being “vaguely threatened” with a “criminal offense,” nobody received a threat. Trump said it would be a “criminal offense” for election officials, including Raffensperger, to have knowledge of ballot tampering and not report it. Trump did say he believed there had been ballot tampering but at no point did he say there would be a prosecution or that he had the evidence to back up his claim.
Yeah, it’s an uncomfortable conversation to listen to. But let’s not pretend it didn’t follow an election year from the ninth circle of hell. Trump might have instead tried to plant a false story with the FBI about Biden conspiring with a foreign power to fix the race but everyone copes with losing in their own way.
In the September 2021 letter to Raffensperger, Trump asked for an investigation. That’s no different than what he asked for in January of that same year. Nobody would call that criminal behavior. And that’s why the media will lie about the Trump political trials every single day.