CNN anchor Abby Phillip criticized former President Donald Trump‘s impeachment lawyers on Friday for their decision to defend up his post-election call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
In the call, which was secretly recorded and has been widely criticized, Trump asked Raffensperger, a Republican, to “find” votes so that the former president could win the state.
House Impeachment Managers had brought up the phone call in their submissions to the Senate trial and on Friday Trump attorney Bruce Castor sought to explain the call. Phillip, who hosts Inside Politics Sunday, suggested Castor was defending unsubstantiated claims that the 2020 election was stolen.
“But I was actually surprised that toward the end there he was litigating the lie, the election fraud lie. It just seemed like a step too far and frankly seemed unnecessary,” Phillip told CNN‘s Dana Bash.
“He had made some arguments about whether the attack was pre-planned, about whether Trump’s words constituted incitement, whether even this was an insurrection although that’s also not true.
“But the idea that they would then throw the call with the Secretary of State of Georgia, Brad Raffensperger, into the mix and then start talking about Trump looking for fraudulent ballots and signatures that don’t match, it seemed go into territory that I think many Republican senators frankly did not want to delve into.”
“Nobody really wants to talk about the underlying problem here which is that Trump believes something that is not true, that he called Raffensperger to pressure him to find votes based on lies and misinformation. That that whole call has been debunked and yet we saw the president’s lawyers litigating it on the Senate floor.”
“It was kind of baffling to me frankly,” Phillip said.
“House managers told you that the president demanded that the Georgia secretary of state ‘find’ just over 11,000 votes,” Castor told the Senate on Friday. “The word ‘find,’ like so many others the House managers highlighted, is taken completely out of context.”
“It is clear that President Trump’s comments and the use of the word ‘find’ were solely related with the inexplicable, dramatic drop in Georgia’s ballot rejection rates,” Castor said.
Castor also misrepresented the percentage of absentee ballots rejected in 2016, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. While Castor said 6.9 percent were rejected that year, the real figure was 2.9 percent. Just 0.3 percent of all absentee ballots in Georgia were rejected in 2020 due to changes in the law and simplified return envelopes.