Georgia’s top election official suggested on Monday that his office leaked a phone call he’d had with President Donald Trump to the media.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, was asked whether the public would have heard the conversation if Trump had not posted a tweet about the call, alleging Raffensperger was “unwilling, or unable, to answer questions” about election and voter fraud allegations and evidence.
“No, it was a private conversation. He broke privacy when he put out a tweet, but then his tweet was false,” Raffensperger told WXIA.
“If President Trump hadn’t have tweeted out anything and would’ve stayed silent, we would’ve stayed silent as well. And that would’ve just been a conversation between him and I, man to man, and that would’ve been just fine with us. But he’s the one that had to put it out on Twitter,” he added.
In a different television appearance, Raffensperger was asked directly if he authorized the release of the call.
“The information is out there,” the election official responded. “It is what it is.”
Fox News host Martha MacCallum pressed him, noting that he failed to answer directly.
“I think we had to respond to the president’s Twitter, and we responded with the facts that were in the call,” Raffensperger said. “So that’s how it got out there. The world can make up their own decisions, listen to the both sides. Both sides of the aisle, down the middle. Make their own decisions.”
A spokesman for Raffensperger’s office declined to comment.
Before the call was released, Trump took to Twitter on Sunday to post the tweet, prompting a response from the secretary of state.
“Respectfully, President Trump: What you’re saying is not true. The truth will come out,” Raffensperger wrote.
About two-and-a-half hours later, the first story about the call, which included snippets of audio, was published.
Kurt Hilbert, a lawyer for Trump, said Monday that “we are disappointed that the secretary of state and his staff secretly recorded and released a confidential settlement discussion.”
The conversation took place as Trump’s team looks to settle two lawsuits they’ve filed, Hilbert said.
“While they may think that behavior is appropriate, we do not,” Hilbert added. “Consequently, we will not be commenting on settlement discussions.”