Former United States President Donald Trump attempted to overturn his electoral defeat against President-elect Joe Biden by trying to find the number of votes he needed to win. The whole run to the White House took a dramatic yet damaging twist to Trump’s already fragile ego after he was he was recorded pressing election officials in Georgia in a leaked viral audio.

The recording was first brought to the forefront by The Washington Post hours after Trump reported his version of the conversation in a tweet. Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger tweeted back shortly after disputing the president’s version.

“All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state,” Trump said on a phone call with Raffensperger, who is a Republican. Other officials on the call included Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows. Trump lost Georgia by 11,779 votes.

“The people of Georgia are angry, the people in the country are angry,” Trump told Raffensperger during the conversation.“There is nothing wrong with saying, you know, um, that you have recalculated,” he further said in the leaked audio recording.

Raffensperger responded with, “Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is, that the data you have is wrong.”

While Georgia has been a solid Republican stronghold all these years, the state wound up being a deciding factor in helping Biden reach the finish line with much ease this election season. He won by 306 Electoral College votes to Trump’s 232 and secured 7 million more popular votes overall.

The leaked audio came out as no surprise to anyone. The recording is only another proof of all the unrelenting pressure that Raffensperger and other officials were put through by Trump, his supporters and lawyers, in the aftermath of his loss this election.

The former president and his allies have filed more than 60 lawsuits, including in the swing states that he had lost by wider margins: Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Nevada. The Trump camp lost almost all the cases, including two in the Supreme Court, where a third of the justices are the president’s appointees.

The leaked tapes themselves, however, have been making rounds as an attempt by Trump to steal back the White House with the number of votes he never got. Critics have also been comparing the Trump tape to Richard Nixon’s tapes now.

Nixon recorded himself admitting complicity in the Watergate cover-up, leading to his resignation. Whereas, Trump offered recorded admissions, beginning in February, that he deliberately downplayed COVID-19’s severity, precipitating an outbreak that has killed nearly 400,000 Americans and then the most recent one where he can be heard talking to a Republican after the election.

Someone like Nixon has more in common with Trump than any of the other US presidents who have been involved in a similar controversy.

For Trump, it has all been about power, access and gratification. Unlike Trump though, Nixon has never chased after that gratifying moment. Both Nixon and Trump come out as outsiders. When the establishment considers them worthy, that is something that appeals to them.

If I do an unbiased comparison, the Nixon recordings will still be the worse. The vulgarity in his tone, how he talked about politics, his unashamed way of taking responsibility for the corruption and the unkind motivations behind those actions were damning for a guy who tried to portray himself as a politician with values and morals.

Trump has openly said that values and morals are for losers, to reference another scandal. All he is ever seeking are results. Americans always knew what they were signing up for when they voted for him as president. The Nixon tapes, on the other hand, dampened America’s reaction to political scandal to a great extent.

The big question with Trump’s tapes is: Does the factor of American lives strip away his support? Nixon sabotaged peace talks between the US and the Vietnamese, costing lives of people in the process. Now, that is criminal and unforgettable. This is one point that might still be out there for Trump, for people to continue supporting him.

Now that Trump has been impeached for the second time, in a historical first, there is a high chance that he might be looking into the possibility of pardoning himself.

Considering the current scenario in US’ internal politics, it is fair to wonder if he will actually seek pardon after leaving office or whether Biden should offer one, similar to what happened after Nixon’s resignation in 1973, following the Watergate scandal.

Gerald Ford, who succeeded Nixon, issued a pardon of the former president in 1974 in order to help the country move on, even when most of the Americans were against it. However, there is a key difference between the Trump’s tapes of 2020 and Nixon’s tape of 1973. Nixon resigned without continuing to stoke divisions in the US. By accepting the pardon, he admitted guilt which effectively closed the Watergate chapter.

This was not the case with Trump. Not only did he never offer to resign but he also refusesd to accept the democratic results of the election and has already promised his supporters, including the ones storming the Capitol, that he will continue his political project no matter what. 

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  • Haddiqua Siddiqui

    Haddiqua Siddiqui is a Multimedia Journalist based in Karachi, Pakistan. Haddo, as her close friends call her, identifies as food-sensitive and stays away from anyone who does not have a sweet tooth. Currently, her wandering soul is on a quest of unlearning and relearning life. Send help!!