WaPo reveals source who gave them fake quotes from Trump-Georgia call

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After The Washington Post issued a long correction for a January 9 report alleging then-President Donald Trump pressured a Georgia election investigator specifically to “find the fraud” and that she would be a “national hero” if she did so, the newspaper revealed the source who supplied them the false quotes.

The Daily Wire earlier on Wednesday reported on this aspect of the Washington Post saga, too.

On Tuesday, The Post’s media critic, Erik Wemple, reported that the original story was “based on an account from Jordan Fuchs, the deputy secretary of state, whom Watson briefed on his comments.”

Fuchs had told The Post—and other media outlets afterward—that Trump pressured Frances Watson, chief investigator of the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, by requesting Watson “find the fraud.” An audio recording of the December 23 phone call published by The Wall Street Journal reveals that the then-president never used those exact words, instead saying, “you are going to find things that are unbelievable.”

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“I won everything but Georgia, and I won Georgia, I know that, by a lot, and the people know it, and something happened there, something bad happened,” Trump told Watson on the call, according to The Journal‘s audio recording. “I hope you go back two years as opposed to just checking one against the other because that would just be sort of a signature check that doesn’t mean anything. But if you go back two years, and if you can get to [Fulton County], you are going to find things that are unbelievable. The dishonesty.”

Trump told Watson near the end of the call that “when the right answer comes out, you’ll be praised.”

However, it should be noted that Trump still did talk to Georgia Secretary of State Raffensperger on the call about finding the number of votes that would have closed the gap between him and Joe Biden, who ultimately won the state.

“I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have because we won the state,” the then-president told Raffensperger, adding later, “It’s not a problem that is going away.”

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Fuchs stood by her remarks to The Post, contending that her statements were not meant to be published as direct quotes, but rather as her interpretation of the call.

“I believe the story accurately reflected the investigator’s interpretation of the call. The only mistake here was in the direct quotes, and they should have been more of a summary,” Fuchs told Wemple. “I think it’s pretty absurd for anybody to suggest that the president wasn’t urging the investigator to ‘find the fraud.’ These are quotes that [Watson] told me at the time.”

The Post, as well as other outlets like CNN, published corrections for their reports. The Post’s correction stated:

Correction: Two months after publication of this story, the Georgia secretary of state released an audio recording of President Donald Trump’s December phone call with the state’s top elections investigator. The recording revealed that The Post misquoted Trump’s comments on the call, based on information provided by a source. Trump did not tell the investigator to “find the fraud” or say she would be “a national hero” if she did so. Instead, Trump urged the investigator to scrutinize ballots in Fulton County, Ga., asserting she would find “dishonesty” there. He also told her that she had “the most important job in the country right now.” A story about the recording can be found here. The headline and text of this story have been corrected to remove quotes misattributed to Trump.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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