Georgia Probes Trump Phone Call That Pressured Election Official
(Bloomberg) -- Georgia officials have launched an investigation into Donald Trump’s telephone call to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which the then-president pressured the elections official to overturn the November election results.
The Georgia Secretary of State’s office said Monday such investigations are routine in response to complaints. “The investigations are fact-finding and administrative in nature,” spokesman Walter Jones said. “Any further legal efforts will be left to the attorney general.”
Georgia’s attorney general, Chris Carr, was appointed by the state’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp, but the Fulton County District Attorney, Fani Willis, could also have jurisdiction. She is a Democrat.
Trump’s efforts to overturn the Georgia election results culminated in an extraordinary phone call to Raffensperger and other officials on Jan. 2 seeking to have them overturn President Joe Biden’s win there. A recording of the call was leaked and published by the Washington Post and NPR.
In the call, Trump asked Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes” -- the number needed to switch winners in the state -- and said failing to do so could bring criminal charges and “a big risk to you.”
Criminal solicitation of election fraud is a felony punishable by up to three years in prison in Georgia. It’s defined as whenever someone “solicits, requests, commands, importunes, or otherwise attempts” to get someone to commit election fraud, regardless of whether it’s successful.
The Georgia investigation comes on the eve of Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate on a charge that he incited an insurrection by telling supporters to go to the U.S. Capitol and “fight like hell.”
The melee that followed forced members of Congress to evacuate their chambers and left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer.
House Democrats have cited Trump’s threats to Raffensperger, saying they show he “would resort to any means necessary to reverse the election outcome.”
Trump’s lawyers don’t dispute the accuracy of that recording, but denied that Trump threatened Raffensperger and said there was nothing inappropriate in the president asking Georgia to “find” more votes. The former president meant that if officials examined the evidence, they would find fraud, the lawyers said.
The Georgia investigation was first reported by the New York Times.
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