ATLANTA – Tuesday’s Jan. 6 hearings D.C. focused on how then-President Donald Trump and his allies attempted to get election workers in Georgia to illegally change the state’s 2020 election results.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his Chief Operating Officer Gabriel Sterling spoke before Congress about the personal and professional pressures they faced to show that Trump won Georgia.
Raffensperger’s team oversaw three separate counts of the state’s 2020 presidential votes. Each count confirmed that Joe Biden won Georgia’s popular vote, Raffensperger told the U.S. House committee.
“Three counts, all remarkably close… showed that President Trump did come up short,” Raffensperger said of the November 2020 election results.
But Trump spent an hour in a recorded phone conversation on Jan. 2, 2021 telling fellow Republican Raffensperger to “find” 11,780 votes to overturn the Georgia results. Democrat Joe Biden had won in Georgia in by 11,779 votes.
“There were no votes to find,” Raffensperger said. “The numbers were the numbers and we could not recalculate because we made sure that we had checked every single allegation.”
Sterling, the chief operating officer, described how a video of Fulton County election workers counting votes became the center of what he called a “conspiracy theory that took on a life of its own.”
Trump alleged that extra Biden ballots had been dropped off at the county’s vote counting center at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.
“What [the video] actually showed was Fulton County workers engaged in normal ballot processing,” Sterling said. “What happens [in the video] is a standard operating procedure.”
The misinformation around the video frustrated Sterling.
“I felt our information was getting out, but that there was a reticence of people…to believe it because the President of the United States… was telling them it wasn’t true,” Sterling said.
“The President’s lawyers…saw the exact same things the rest of us could see. And they chose to mislead state senators and the public,” Sterling said. “They knew it was untrue.”
Prominent elected officials like Raffensperger and ordinary election workers alike faced harassment as a result of the misinformation.
Trump supporters targeted Fulton County election workers Shaye Moss and her mother Ruby Freeman, who are shown at work counting ballots in the video.
“A lot of [the threats] were racist, a lot of them were just hateful,” Moss said.
“This turned my life upside down,” Moss said. She left her job as a Fulton County election worker, as did many of her colleagues, she said.
Her mother, Ruby Freeman, used to wear a t-shirt that “proudly proclaimed,” her nickname, “Lady Ruby.”
In videotaped testimony shown on Tuesday, Freeman said she hasn’t worn the shirt since election day and won’t ever again.
Freeman had to leave her home for over two months starting in January 2021 because the Federal Bureau of Investigation deemed it unsafe to remain there.
“I won’t even introduce myself by my name anymore…..I’ve lost my name, and I’ve lost my reputation,” Freeman said.
The next hearing is scheduled for Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m.
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.