Presidential administrations used to make some attempt to at least appear to act in an ethical manner. White House officials did not use their government-issued platforms to drum up votes for other candidates in their party and campaign events were never, ever held in the White House. With Donald Trump, ethical violations are a repeated pattern, but some of those ethical violations have crossed the line into criminal territory, which is what Trump did during an hour-long phone call with elections officials in Georgia released by The Washington Post.
In an administration defined by shamelessness, this is a low point. We took action last night.https://t.co/aJ2nBFhvHc
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) January 5, 2021
Citizens for Responsibility/Ethics in Washington (CREW) joined in a growing chorus of voices on Tuesday calling for a criminal investigation into that phone call, one in which Trump at times pleaded and at other points demanded that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R-GA) “find” him 11,780 votes, one more than he lost by to President-elect Joe Biden in the state.
In a statement on their website, the organization said:
‘Trump appears to have illegally conspired to deprive the people of Georgia of their right to vote and have their votes counted, conspired to intimidate Georgia election officials in an effort to falsify the count of votes in the presidential election, attempted to deprive or defraud the residents of Georgia of a fair election process by falsely tabulating ballots and attempted to cause Georgia officials to engage in conduct that constitutes a crime under the state election code.’
American presidents have violated ethical codes and some have famously broken the law to get themselves re-elected. Richard Nixon covered up a criminal scheme to steal information from a Democratic National Committee office out of fear he might lose his bid for re-election in the early 1970s. Trump’s blatant abuses of power, however, from a man who believes that the Constitution says he can do “whatever I want,” makes quite clear that breaking the law is not a barrier for him. In lieu of waiting and trying to run again in 2024, Trump believes he can demand that he get more votes and simply be re-elected whether the American people want him in office or not.
CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said
‘President Trump’s conduct violates not only the law, but the foundation on which our democracy is built. This is some of the most egregious conduct weâ€™ve ever seen from a US president, raising the question of whether this country is to continue as a democracy with our leaders chosen by the American people, or a dictatorship in which the leaders choose the election results they want.’
Two past presidents of the State Bar of Georgia have called for criminal investigations into the president's effort to subvert Georgia's election results. https://t.co/kinFOPqOzz
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 5, 2021
In addition to this latest action that borders on the criminal, Trump faces state charges related to potential tax and bank fraud in New York once he leaves office, a charge for which he cannot pardon himself. It will be up to the Department of Justice under Joe Biden to pursue Trump criminally.
Bookbinder added that:
‘This conduct is not only a gross abuse of power, but also represents clear violations of federal and state laws designed to protect our elections from unscrupulous interference. This needs to be investigated immediately.’
JUST IN: A criminal referral against President Trump has been sent to FBI Director Chris Wray by House Democrats @tedlieu & @RepKathleenRice, both former prosecutors who say Trump's call to Georgia SecState Raffensperger was illegal pic.twitter.com/gNgCh2b3bL
— John Kruzel (@johnkruzel) January 4, 2021