‘Breakdown’ Episode 7: Planting the seeds of truth

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Gabriel Sterling discuss the 2020 presidential election and its aftermath.

The public release of the recording of the Jan. 2, 2021, phone call from then-President Donald Trump to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger was the impetus for what is now an ongoing special purpose grand jury investigation.

In the seventh episode of “The Trump Grand Jury,” the ninth season of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Breakdown podcast, Raffensperger and a top aide, Gabe Sterling, sit for an interview and talk about the 2020 presidential election and its aftermath.

During the phone call, Raffensperger disagreed with Trump’s assertions that he had won Georgia by hundreds of thousands of votes, not lost the election by 11,779 votes. And even though Trump alternately pleaded, insulted and threatened Raffensperger, the secretary held firm.

Trump soon began publicly criticizing Raffensperger, which led to threats against the secretary and his wife of 46 years. In the interview, Raffensperger explains why he did not lash out against the president.

ExploreThe latest on the Trump grand jury probe

“You can be conservative and be kind,” he said. “I think people are looking for honesty. I think they’re looking for civil discourse. … People that hold elected office, I believe, should comport themselves in the manner that you would expect of someone that holds that office.”

Sterling recalls what it was like testifying before the special purpose grand jury, noting that at least 10 of the grand jurors asked questions. This included two grand jurors who still had questions about the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, he said.

The episode also examines a surprise ruling by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney that bars District Attorney Fani Willis and her office from calling lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Burt Jones before the grand jury or considering him to be a target of the investigation. Jones was one of 16 alternative electors who cast votes for Trump during a meeting in the state Capitol.

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ExploreListen to previous seasons of the AJC's 'Breakdown' podcast