President Donald Trump tried to contact Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger at least 18 times before their phone call on Saturday, The Washington Post cited Raffensperger's deputy Jordan Fuchs as saying.
According to Fuchs, Trump's calls were repeatedly patched through to interns in the press office, who thought he was a prank caller rather than POTUS.
In a recorded phone call leaked by The Washington Post on Sunday, Trump focused on his drive to overturn the 3 November presidential election results in Georgia after his loss to Democrat Joe Biden.
"So look, all I want to do is this, I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state. […] The people of Georgia are angry, the people of the country are angry. And there's nothing wrong with saying that, you know, that you've recalculated", Trump was heard saying during the call.
POTUS also claimed all the ballots cast in favour of Biden during the election were "corrupt" and that failing to say so and make Trump the winner was a "criminal offence".
"You should want to have an accurate election. And you're a Republican", Trump added, referring to Raffensperger, who was heard saying in response, "the challenge you have, Mr President, is that the data you have is wrong".
The Georgia secretary of state referred to the telephone conversation during his interview with ABC News on Monday, when he insisted that Trump "did most of the talking", while he and his team "did most of the listening".
"But I did want to make my points that the data that he has is just plain wrong", Raffensperger added.
He spoke as Democratic lawmakers Ted Lieu and Kathleen Rice sent a letter to the FBI, urging it "to open an immediate criminal investigation into the president" in connection with his call to the Georgia secretary of state.
"As members of Congress and former prosecutors, we believe Donald Trump engaged in solicitation of, or conspiracy to commit, a number of election crimes", the lawmakers asserted in the letter.
In a separate development, Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer argued in a tweet on Monday the Trump-Raffensperger call was recorded illegally.
According to Shafer, the online conference call, attended by the president's lawyers and administration officials, was conducted under the stipulation that it remain confidential – something that Raffensperger purportedly violated.
The audio published by @TheWashingtonPost is heavily edited and omits the stipulation that all discussions were for the purpose of settling litigation and confidential under federal and state law.— David Shafer (@DavidShafer) January 3, 2021
"Mind boggling that Raffensperger and his lawyers would secretly record and release a confidential settlement conference with the president. I have made open records requests to the secretary of state which have never been acknowledged or answered. This is lawlessness", Shafer tweeted.
Trump, for his part, spoke at a rally in Dalton, Georgia on Monday, vowing to continue his efforts to overturn the results of the 3 November presidential election.
Trump also said there was no possibility they lost Georgia, as Biden was certified as the first Democratic presidential candidate in more than two decades to win the state. In 2016, POTUS managed to win the battleground state by 5.1 percent.
The Dalton speech came on the eve of the crucial Georgia runoff elections that will pit Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler against Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock. If at least one GOP candidate wins re-election, it will be enough for Republicans to retain a majority in the Senate.