(CNN)Officials in the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office located a recently released recording of former President Donald Trump’s call to a state investigator in a trash folder on her device, a state official familiar with the situation confirmed to CNN.
The discovery of the call comes after state officials originally told CNN that they did not think audio of the call existed. The call added to the examples of Trump’s extraordinary efforts to push false claims of widespread voter fraud and influence Georgia election officials as they certified the state’s election results.
The audio file of the December 23 call between the former President and investigator Frances Watson was discovered as the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office responded to a public records request. The personal familiar spoke with CNN on the condition of anonymity to describe the internal process.
The Washington Post first reported the details of how the audio of the December phone call emerged.Watson declined comment to CNN through the Georgia Secretary of State’s press secretary. CNN previously reported that in the December phone call to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, Trump urged their top investigator, Watson, to find fraud in the 2020 presidential election, telling her that she would be a “praised” for overturning results in favor of President Joe Biden.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis had sent a round of letters to Georgia state officials in February, including the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, asking them to preserve documents relevant to election interference. Willis is currently conducting a criminal investigation into Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia.
The secretary of state’s office is also separately investigating Trump for his attempts to overturn the state’s election results.
Audio of an hour-long January 2 phone call in which Trump repeatedly pressured Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” the exact number of votes needed to overturn Biden’s victory surfaced soon after the call happened. But the December call only became public last week.
Watson told CNN affiliate WSB-TV‘s investigative reporter Mark Winne that she had recorded the December call from Trump for posterity.”It’s not every day, that probably will never happen again in my lifetime,” Watson told WSB.
It is still not clear why Watson moved the audio of the call to her trash folder, but Watson told Winne that even though she was surprised Trump called her, she did not perceive any pressure from his phone call.” It is something that is not expected, as I mentioned in the call you know I was shocked that he would take the time to do that,” Watson said.
Trump in the December call had encouraged Watson to look to uncover “dishonesty” in her signature checks for absentee ballots in Fulton County, the most populous county in state and the one that houses most of Atlanta.
“But if you go back two years, and if you can get to Fulton, you are going to find things that are going to be unbelievable,” the former President said. “The dishonesty that we’ve heard from. But Fulton is the mother lode.” Later on the phone call, Trump told Watson that he hoped “we” could win Georgia and that “you have the most important job in the country right now.