Fact Check: President Trump Did NOT File Two Lawsuits Against Georgia Secretary of State for 'Leaking' Tape Of 'Confidential Litigation Call' About Overturning Election

Fact Check

  • by: Olivera Perkins
Fact Check: President Trump Did NOT File Two Lawsuits Against Georgia Secretary of State for 'Leaking' Tape Of 'Confidential Litigation Call' About Overturning Election No Leak Suits

Did President Donald Trump file state and federal lawsuits against Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger for allegedly "leaking" the tape of a "confidential litigation call" regarding the president's request to overturn election results? No, that's not true: Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer, whom the Gateway Pundit article used as the source about lawsuits, told Lead Stories he was referring to earlier suits Trump had filed that had nothing to do with the leak.

The claim appeared in an article published January 3, 2021 on thegatewaypundit.com titled, "President Trump Files Two Lawsuits Against Dirty Georgia Secretary of State Raffensperger for Leaking Confidential Litigation Call" (archived here), which opened:

The travesty in Georgia continues. President Trump held a one-hour long phone call on Saturday with crooked Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and state election officials on the 2020 election in his state that was wrought with fraud. It's not clear if Ruby Freeman or Ralph Jones, Sr. were on the call. In the one-hour...

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President Trump Files Two Lawsuits Against Dirty Georgia Secretary of State Raffensperger for Leaking Confidential Litigation Call

The travesty in Georgia continues. President Trump held a one-hour long phone call on Saturday with crooked Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and state election officials on the 2020 election in his state that was wrought with fraud. It's not clear if Ruby Freeman or Ralph Jones, Sr. were on the call. In the one-hour...

There were similar online claims of Trump suing the Georgia Secretary of State for leaking the tape, including in an article on theusawire.com titled, "Lawsuits fly following leaked phone call between Trump and GA's Raffensperger."

Raffensperger's office told Lead Stories that Trump dropped the two election-related suits Shafer referred to on January 7, 2021, and a spokesman for the Georgia secretary of state said he wasn't aware of Trump bringing any additional lawsuits.

The taped call that is the subject of the Gateway Pundit article is the one that The Washington Post revealed January 3, 2021, along with an article saying that "President Trump urged fellow Republican Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, to 'find' enough votes to overturn his defeat in an extraordinary one-hour phone call."

The Gateway Pundit headline declares Trump filed two suits against Raffensperger "for leaking confidential litigation call." The Gateway Pundit article cites Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer as the source of the information about the two purported suits, based on the tape:

Georgia Republican chairman David Shafer later announced that President Trump and his team filed two lawsuits against Secretary of State Raffensperger.

The article included this Shafer tweet on the subject, posted January 3, 2021, which states:

President @realDonaldTrump has filed two lawsuits - federal and state - against @GaSecofState. The telephone conference call @GaSecofState secretly recorded was a "confidential settlement discussion" of that litigation, which is still pending.

President @realDonaldTrump has filed two lawsuits - federal and state - against @GaSecofState. The telephone conference call @GaSecofState secretly recorded was a "confidential settlement discussion" of that litigation, which is still pending.

-- David Shafer (@DavidShafer) January 3, 2021

In response to a January 6, 2021, question from Lead Stories Managing Editor Dean Miller via Twitter, Shafer said his Tweets (shown above) weren't referring to new suits stemming from the leak of a recording of the Trump call with Raffensperger. Shafer mentioned earlier Trump suits seeking to decertify the election results, in which now President-Elect Joe Biden carried the state. In their exchange, Shafer wrote:

But the state lawsuit was filed December 4 in Fulton Superior Court and the federal lawsuit was filed December 31 in the Northern District of Georgia.

Shafer, explaining the timeline that made the Gateway Pundit's headline impossible, wrote:

The lawsuits were not about the call. The call was about the lawsuits...But the state lawsuit was filed December 4 in Fulton Superior Court and the federal lawsuit was filed December 31 in the Northern District of Georgia.

Shafer.png

(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Thu Jan 7 18:37:05 2021 UTC)

Both lawsuits were filed before The Washington Post published the transcript and posted online the recording of President Trump pressuring Secretary of State Raffensperger to find more votes.

NewsGuard, a company that uses trained journalist to rank the reliability of websites, describes thegatewaypundit.com as:

A partisan conservative website that regularly publishes hoaxes, conspiracy theories, and unsubstantiated claims, including those related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to NewsGuard the site does not maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability. Read their full assessment here.

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  Olivera Perkins

Olivera Perkins is a veteran journalist and fact checker at Lead Stories, who has covered a variety of beats, including labor, employment and workforce issues for several years at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland. Olivera has received state and national awards for her coverage, including those from the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW). She was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.

Read more about or contact Olivera Perkins

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