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Trump pressured Arizona governor after 2020 election to help overturn his defeat

<i>AP/USA Today Network</i><br/>
AP/USA Today Network

By Kristen Holmes, Alayna Treene and Jeremy Herb, CNN

(CNN) — Following his defeat in the 2020 election, President Donald Trump spoke to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to discuss the results, a source familiar with the call told CNN.

Publicly, Ducey said at the time that the two Republican leaders had spoken, though he did not describe what they had talked about. Behind closed doors, Ducey said that the former president was pressuring him to find fraud in the presidential election in Arizona that would help him overturn his loss in the state, a source with knowledge said. Trump narrowly lost Arizona to Joe Biden by less than 11,000 votes.

There was no recording made of the call between Trump and Ducey, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Trump also repeatedly pressured his vice president, Mike Pence, to help him find evidence of fraud and overturn the 2020 election results. Pence told the governor that if there was hard evidence of voter fraud to report it appropriately, one of the sources said.

Pence spoke to Ducey multiple times about the election, though he did not pressure the governor as he was asked, sources familiar with the calls said.

A spokesperson for Pence declined to comment.

The Washington Post first reported on Trump pressuring Ducey on overturning the election results.

Trump publicly attacked Ducey, a former ally, over the state’s certification of the results. As Ducey was certifying the election results in November 2020, Trump appeared to call the governor – with a “Hail to the Chief” ringtone heard playing on Ducey’s phone. Ducey did not take that call but later said he spoke with Trump, though he did not describe the specifics of the conversation.

A spokesman for Ducey told CNN earlier this week that the former governor had not been contacted by the office of special counsel Jack Smith, who is investigating efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 elections.

Those efforts include outreach to various state officials, including Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, whom Smith has interviewed. In January 2021, Trump told Raffensperger to “find” the votes he needed to win the state, a call that’s at the center of the Fulton County district attorney’s investigation into attempts to overturn the election in Georgia.

The special counsel’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

A Ducey spokesman said Saturday that the former governor “stands by his action to certify the election and considers the issue to be in the rear view mirror – it’s time to move on.”

“This is nothing more than a ‘copy and paste’ of a compilation of articles from the past two years, disguised as something new and relying on shaky and questionable sourcing,” spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said in a statement. “Frankly, nothing here is new nor is it news to anyone following this issue the last two years. Governor Ducey defended the results of Arizona’s 2020 election, he certified the election, and he made it clear that the certification provided a trigger for credible complaints backed by evidence to be brought forward. None were ever brought forward.”

Trump is currently seen as the front-runner for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination as he seeks a return to the White House.

A Trump spokesperson said in a statement: “These witch-hunts are designed to interfere and meddle in the 2024 election in an attempt to prevent President Trump from returning to the White House to make this country great again. They will fail and President Trump will be re-elected.”

Before his fallout with Trump, Ducey had been seen as a formidable candidate for Senate in 2022, but he ultimately ruled out a bid to challenge Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, who won reelection last year over a Trump-endorsed GOP nominee.

Ducey, who was term-limited as governor last year, endorsed Karrin Taylor Robson, a former member of the Arizona Board of Regents, in the race to succeed him. However, Taylor Robson lost the primary to Trump’s pick, Kari Lake, a former television anchor who said she would not have certified Biden’s 2020 win had she been governor. Lake ended up losing the general election to Democrat Katie Hobbs and has continued to promote election falsehoods, including about her own race.

Ducey, a former CEO of Cold Stone Creamery, served a term as Arizona treasurer before winning two elections for governor.

He announced last month he would be leading Citizens for Free Enterprise, which describes itself as a “new national effort to promote and protect free enterprise.”

This story has been updated with additional information.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Tierney Sneed contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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