JUNE 21, 2022
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s wife received “sexualized threats” from supporters of President Donald Trump after Raffensperger refused to go along with Trump’s plot to overturn the 2020 presidential election, he testified Tuesday before a House select committee.
“After the election, my email, my cellphone was doxxed, and so I was getting texts [from] all over the country. And then eventually my wife started getting texts. Hers typically came in sexualized texts, which were disgusting,” Raffensperger said during the House Jan. 6 committee’s fourth public hearing, which focused on threats against state and local election officials in the wake of the 2020 presidential election.
“They started going after her probably to put pressure on me: ‘Why don’t you just quit and walk away?’” Raffensperger said.
The barrage of threats occurred as Raffensperger publicly and privately refuted Trump’s claims that the presidential vote in Georgia, which Trump lost, had been marred by fraud.
Leaders of the House Jan. 6 committee, which is investigating the events surrounding Trump’s attempts to overturn the election and the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol that followed, used the hearing to paint Trump as responsible for the litany of threats received by Raffensperger, his family and other state and local officials who refused to assist Trump in undermining American democracy.
The now-infamous Jan. 2, 2021, phone call in which Trump urged Raffensperger to “find” roughly 12,000 votes to overturn the state’s election result was key to those efforts: During Raffensperger’s testimony, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) played portions of the call in which Trump warned Raffensperger that it was “very dangerous” to dispute the president’s claims of fraud. Trump pushed a conspiracy theory that Atlanta-area election workers had shipped in suitcases of ballots to tilt the election results, and he argued without evidence that thousands of dead voters had cast ballots in the contest.
“I watched you this morning, and you said there was no criminality,” Trump told Raffensperger, referring to a news conference in which the secretary of state had reiterated that no widespread voter fraud or other irregularities had occurred in Georgia. “All of this stuff is very dangerous stuff, when you talk about no criminality. I think it’s very dangerous for you to say that.”
Trump also insinuated that Raffensperger could face criminal liability for refusing to go along with the plot to steal the election away from Joe Biden, according to portions of the call played during the hearing.
“The ballots are corrupt, which is totally illegal,” Trump told Raffensperger. “It’s more illegal for you than it is for them, because you know what they did and you’re not reporting it. That’s a criminal offense, and you can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk.”
Raffensperger interpreted both as threats during the call, he wrote in a book released last year. He implied again on Tuesday that Trump bore responsibility for the dangers his family have faced since.
Raffensperger also testified that his daughter-in-law’s house was broken into after the election.
“My son has passed, and she’s a widow, and she has two kids,” Raffensperger said. “So we’re very concerned about her safety also.”
Reuters previously reported the break-in, which neither the committee nor Raffensperger detailed further at the hearing. The news service also reported last year that death threats and other threats of violence against Raffensperger and his wife, Tricia, continued for months after the 2020 election and that they spent a week in hiding and canceled regular visits with family in an effort to stay safe. Members of the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia group, showed up outside their home, Reuters reported.
Arizona state House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R) testified on Tuesday that he received similar threats after he refused to embrace Trump’s lies about election fraud or help him overturn the results in his state, which Trump had also lost by a narrow margin.
Bowers told the committee that he still worries about “what will happen on Saturdays” because of angry protests that have taken place outside his home. He said that he had witnessed an armed protester wearing a vest that bore the insignia of the Three Percenters, another right-wing militia organization, confronting one of his neighbors.
Bowers said his concerns were heightened because his “gravely ill daughter” was in the house during the worst of the threats.
In previous hearings, the Jan. 6 committee has presented testimony showing that members of Trump’s inner circle, including former Attorney General William Barr, had told him that there was no evidence of fraud in the election and that his attempts to overturn the results were unlikely to work. Tuesday’s hearing sought to build the case that Trump knowingly put state election officials and their families in danger anyway.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a member of the House select committee, said after Tuesday’s hearing that he did not “have a complete answer” when HuffPost asked if anyone had received threats for testifying in front of it.
“We are obviously deeply invested in the security of all of our witnesses,” Raskin said. “We want to make sure that there are no reprisals and no retaliation against any of our witnesses. What we saw from Georgia is truly a threat to the rule of law in our country. The idea that people can be intimidated by the president of the United States just for doing their jobs and then subjected to a campaign of private intimidation and threats afterward ― that’s unacceptable in the United States of America.”