• Wed. Dec 8th, 2021


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Trump Is Said to Have Called Arizona Official After Election Loss

President Donald J. Trump twice sought to talk on the phone with the Republican leader of Arizona’s most populous county last winter as the Trump campaign and its allies tried unsuccessfully to reverse Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s narrow victory in the state’s presidential contest, according to the Republican official and records obtained by The Arizona Republic, a Phoenix newspaper.

But the leader, Clint Hickman, then the chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, said in an interview on Friday that he let the calls — made in late December and early January — go to voice mail and did not return them. “I told people, ‘Please don’t have the president call me,’” he said.

At the time, Mr. Hickman was being pressed by the state Republican Party chairwoman and Mr. Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani to investigate claims of fraud in the county’s election, which Mr. Biden had won by about 45,000 votes.

Liz Harrington, a spokeswoman for Mr. Trump, said in a statement that “it’s no surprise Maricopa County election officials had no desire to look into significant irregularities during the election,” though there is no evidence of widespread problems with Arizona’s election. She did not directly address the calls reportedly made by Mr. Trump. Two former campaign aides said they knew nothing about the outreach to the Maricopa County official.

The Arizona Republic obtained the records of the phone calls from Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani after a Freedom of Information Act request.

Mr. Hickman and the county’s four other supervisors certified the election results and have repeatedly called the vote free and fair. But the Republican-controlled State Senate began its own review of all 2.1 million votes cast in the county, which has been widely criticized by state officials from both parties and is still underway.

The Arizona Republic reported that the calls came as the state Republican chairwoman, Kelli Ward, sought to connect Mr. Hickman and other county officials to Mr. Trump and his allies so they could discuss purported irregularities in the county’s election.

Ms. Ward first told Mr. Hickman on Nov. 13, the day after the Maricopa vote count sealed Mr. Biden’s victory in Arizona, that the president would probably call him. But the first call did not come until New Year’s Eve, when Mr. Hickman said the White House operator dialed him as he was dining with his wife.

Mr. Hickman said the switchboard operator left a voice mail message saying Mr. Trump wished to speak with him and asking him to call back. He didn’t. 

Four nights later, the White House switchboard operator called Mr. Hickman again, he said. By then, Mr. Hickman recalled, he had read a transcript of Mr. Trump’s call with Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state whom Mr. Trump pressured to “find more votes” to reverse his defeat in the state.

“I had seen what occurred in Georgia and I was like, ‘I want no part of this madness and the only way I enter into this is I call the president back,’” Mr. Hickman said.

He sent the call to voice mail and did not return it because, he said, the county was in litigation over the election results at that point.

In November and December, Mr. Giuliani also called Mr. Hickman and the three other Republicans on the Board of Supervisors, The Republic reported. That call to Mr. Hickman also went to his voice mail, he said, and he did not return it either.

Among those he consulted with while considering whether to return Mr. Trump’s calls, Mr. Hickman said, was Thomas Liddy, the litigation chief of Maricopa County. Mr. Liddy is a son of G. Gordon Liddy, the key figure in the Watergate burglary.  

“History collides,” Mr. Hickman said. “It’s a small world.”

Annie Karni contributed reporting.