The former president demanded that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger essentially commit election fraud.
As former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial gets underway in Congress, a phone call he made in the past to local election officials in Georgia has come back to haunt him. The Secretary of State recently launched an investigation into the call Trump made in late January, attempting to pressure election officials to help reverse his defeat during the last Presidential elections. The investigation is particularly absurd as it analyzes a phone call to the Georgia Secretary of State, by the Secretary of State himself. Nonetheless, the launch of an official probe spells bad news for Trump, as he now finds himself "one step closer to the local criminal prosecutor’s office," VICE News reports.
Breaking NYT: The office of Georgia's secretary of state has started an investigation into Trump's attempts to overturn the state's election results, including the phone call he made to Brad Raffensperger to 'find' enough votes to reverse his loss. https://t.co/0EXE9ga5Ug— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) February 8, 2021
Findings from the investigation will soon be presented to the state’s election board. From there, a decision to formally refer the matter to the local district attorney’s office or the state Attorney General’s office for potential prosecution will be made. Walter Jones, a spokesman for the Georgia Secretary of State, said in an interview with VICE News on Monday evening, "[The investigation is technically] fact-finding and administrative in nature. Any further legal efforts will be left to the Attorney General." Meanwhile, legal experts believe that the former President may have broken both federal as well as state criminal statutes when he "hectored and berated" Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
Former president told state's top election official that he could change the results of Georgia's election https://t.co/2gZ9WbMmTM— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) February 9, 2021
A call to investigate from one member of the state election board, David Worley, may have prompted the probe. "To say that I am troubled by President Trump's attempt to manipulate the votes of Georgians would be an understatement," he asserted in a letter to other members. "Among our responsibilities is to determine whether probable cause exists to refer potential civil and criminal violations of the Code to the Georgia Attorney General and local District Attorneys." He believes Trump should be investigated for violating state laws, comprising the statute barring conspiracy to commit election fraud.
Georgia election officials opened an investigation Monday into Donald Trump’s phone call to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger urging him to “find” enough votes to reverse the outcome of the presidential contest in the state.https://t.co/t8zdt9GzE0— Marc E. Elias (@marceelias) February 9, 2021
The phone call, in which Trump pressures Raffensperger to find enough votes to allow him to win the state, was recorded and leaked to the media, most notably The Washington Post. During the call, he also "repeated groundless conspiracy theories, railed about dead people voting, and switched between cajoling, begging, and threatening." "All I want to do is this," the 45th President is heard stating. "I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have, because we won the state." Legal analysts have since referred to a state law against knowingly soliciting election fraud, but a spokesman for Trump has suggested that he was well within the law.
"One former federal prosecutor told CNN it's clear the state can make a case against Trump [and that] the Georgia statute that deals with election fraud shows that it is 'pretty clear' that the former President committed election fraud during his phone call with Raffensperger." https://t.co/MVsRQ457R8— George Conway (@gtconway3d) February 9, 2021
"There was nothing improper or untoward about a scheduled call between President Trump, Secretary Raffensperger, and lawyers on both sides," said senior Trump adviser Jason Miller. "If Mr. Raffensperger didn’t want to receive calls about the election, he shouldn’t have run for secretary of state." Evidently, not everyone is convinced, least of all the Secretary of State. A local prosecutor’s office is taking the phone call “seriously as a potential case." Nonetheless, the irony remains; the state election board that will make the decision regarding the legality of the phone call is led by Raffensperger as chairman and includes two Republicans and two Democrats. At present, it is unclear if Raffensperger will excuse himself as a witness from the final vote.