A controversial December phone call between then-President Donald Trump and a top Georgia official was initially "misquoted" by The Washington Post and then widely disseminated before the release of the call's audio last week prompted a major mea culpa.
Audio of the approximately 6-minute call between Trump and Frances Watson, the chief investigator of the Georgia Secretary of State's office, was published by The Wall Street Journal on March 11 and shows Trump never told anyone on the call to "find the fraud," as was reported at the time.
In the recording of the Dec. 23 call, Trump told Watson she had the most important job in the country at the time and urged her investigators to review signatures going back several years, according to the recording, the Journal reported.
While her audit was focused on Cobb County, he said she should look at Fulton County, the state's most populous county that includes most of Atlanta.
"If you can get to Fulton, you are going to find things that are going to be unbelievable," Trump said, the recording showed.
Later on March 11, the Post, above its report about the newly released audio, added a correction for its original story.
"The recording revealed that the Post misquoted Trump's comments on the call, based on information provided by a source," it said. "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.'"
The news outlet said both the headline and text of the original story "have been corrected to remove quotes misattributed to Trump."
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is conducting a criminal investigation into Trump's efforts to overturn the results of the Nov. 3 election.
The Georgia secretary of state's office is also conducting a probe after multiple calls Trump made to Georgia state officials about tracking down potential voter fraud that could flip the presidential vote.
"All I want to do is this: I just want to find 11,780 votes," Trump told Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in a Jan. 2 call, referencing a number that would hand Trump victory in the state, according to a video transcript.
As part of the Fulton County investigation, Willis sent out letters to state officials in February asking them to preserve relevant documents, the Washington Examiner reported.
Officials found the recording between Trump and Watson in a trash folder on Watson's device, the Washington Examiner noted.
Watson, in an interview with WSB-TV after the audio was released, said she was surprised by Trump's Dec. 23 call – but did not feel pressured.
"It is something that is not expected, and as I mentioned in the call, I was shocked that he would take the time to do that," she said.
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