Trump Capitol Riot

President Donald Trump talks on the phone to Vice President Mike Pence from the Oval Office of the White House on Jan. 6, 2021. House Select Committee via AP

As President Donald Trump and his allies sought to overturn his 2020 election loss, they hammered election officials and lawmakers across the country with phone calls, hoping to persuade them to help reverse the results.

About two dozen of those calls are now at the center of the wide-ranging indictment brought against Trump and 18 others in the Atlanta area this week. Together, they make up a key part of the case Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis has assembled to argue that Trump and his co-defendants not only broke the law but did so as part of a criminal enterprise whose goal was to fraudulently keep Trump in power.

The indictment highlights calls allegedly made by Trump and close associates to officials in three states – Pennsylvania, Arizona and Georgia – in a months-long pressure campaign that began with Trump’s defeat in November 2020 and culminated with the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. It also describes calls Trump made to Vice President Mike Pence urging him to block certification of Joe Biden’s victory.

Many of the calls have been previously reported, but this is the first time prosecutors have used them to bring racketeering charges against Trump and the people around him who allegedly sought to subvert the vote. The calls are among more than 150 “overt acts” that prosecutors say formed a web of illegal activity in violation of Georgia’s powerful anti-racketeering law, which allows prosecutors to pull in evidence from other states.

Trump, who faces 13 charges in the case, has denied wrongdoing.



Within days of losing the vote in Pennsylvania, Trump and his allies allegedly began pressing officials there to change that outcome by backing a slate of pro-Trump electors. The indictment points to seven calls Trump’s team made to state GOP lawmakers in late November to discuss the effort.

Rudy Giuliani, then Trump’s personal lawyer, aggressively pursued state Republican Rep. Bryan Cutler, then the speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, leaving him four voicemails in four days, according to the indictment. Sometimes Giuliani was joined by Jenna Ellis, another member of Trump’s legal team. Giuliani and Ellis also called Jake Corman, then the Republican president pro tempore of the state Senate. Trump called Corman separately, according to the indictment.

Giuliani attacked prosecutors in a statement, saying the charges had “the purpose of framing President Donald Trump and anyone willing to take on the ruling regime.” Ellis said in a statement: “The Democrats and the Fulton County DA are criminalizing the practice of law.”


Arizona was the site of some of the earliest and largest “stop the steal” protests in the days after the election. It was also where, according to the indictment, then-state Republican House Speaker Rusty Bowers rebuffed attempts by Trump and his team to reverse Biden’s win in the state.

In a call with Bowers, Trump and Giuliani raised false claims about voter fraud in the state, the indictment says, and asked if he would support their effort to appoint alternate electors from Arizona. In a second call about a month later, Trump again allegedly brought up the elector scheme. Bowers pushed back, according to the indictment, telling Trump, “I voted for you. I worked for you. I campaigned for you. I just won’t do anything illegal for you.”


Still, Trump’s team continued to hound him. Days before the Capitol riot, lawyer John Eastman, an architect of the brazen legal strategy to keep Trump in office, called Bowers about appointing alternate electors, according to the indictment. Bowers again refused, saying it would violate his oath of office.

An attorney for Eastman said in a statement Tuesday that the activity described in the indictment was “political, but not criminal,” adding that Eastman “will challenge this indictment in any and all forums available to him.”


Trump and his team worked relentlessly to undo his loss in Georgia, a former Republican stronghold that Biden carried by less than a quarter of a percentage point.

Willis’s investigation in Georgia began more than two years ago, after The Washington Post reported on Trump’s extraordinary phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Jan. 2, 2021. In that call, Trump urged his fellow Republican to “find” enough votes to deliver him the state.

In the weeks prior, he and Giuliani dialed several other top GOP officials in Georgia. In a call to Gov. Brian Kemp, Trump pushed for a special session of the legislature to overturn Biden’s win. Days later, Giuliani made the same request of David Ralston, then the state House speaker, according to the indictment. Kemp said the move was “not an option that is allowed under state or federal law.” Trump and Giuliani also made multiple calls in December 2020 to Cecil Terrell “Butch” Miller, then the Georgia Senate’s president pro tempore, according to the indictment.


Around the same time, Trump went after Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr for criticizing a long-shot lawsuit challenging Trump’s loss, telling Carr over the phone that he should not “discourage other state attorneys general from joining” the case, the indictment says.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows played a part in at least two calls, as outlined in the indictment. In one, Meadows arranged for Trump to speak with the state’s chief elections investigator, Frances Watson, the indictment says. Trump allegedly told Watson that he had won the state “by hundreds of thousands of votes,” adding that “when the right answer comes out you’ll be praised.” Less than two weeks later, Trump, with Meadows on the line, rang up Raffensperger and threatened vague consequences if he refused to change the election outcome.

An attorney for Meadows did not respond to a request for comment from The Post.

The calls cited in the Georgia indictment are only a fraction of the examples prosecutors are using to argue that Trump’s attempts to overturn the election were criminal. The indictment describes numerous additional calls, texts, emails and meetings among Trump, his co-defendants and a group of unindicted co-conspirators. Other communications with state officials were outlined in the federal indictment brought by special counsel Jack Smith or have been documented in news reports.

By early January, the Trump team’s efforts in the states had all but failed. Their last hope was Mike Pence, who, as vice president, was tasked with certifying the 2020 results.

On Jan. 5, 2021, the day before Congress met to certify Biden the winner, Trump dialed him twice. He allegedly told him: “You gotta be tough tomorrow.”

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: