According to a new report in The New York Times, “Prosecutors in Georgia appear increasingly likely to open a criminal investigation of President Trump over his attempts to overturn the results of the state’s 2020 election.” In perhaps the most infamous example of the president’s meddling, in early January, he called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) and pressured the top elections official to “find” enough votes to flip the state’s certified election outcome from Biden to Trump. Now, according to the Times, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is considering “the hiring of a special assistant from outside to oversee” a potential Trump investigation, sources say.
Any state-level criminal charges would be exempt from presidential pardons. Trump is already facing a known criminal investigation from Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, who is investigating the Trump family business’s finances. Jeff DiSantis, a spokesman for Willis’s office, “said the office had not taken any action to hire outside counsel and declined to comment further on the case,” according to the Times. Back in early January, after news of Trump’s conversation with Raffensperger first emerged, Willis insisted in a public statement that she would “enforce the law without fear or favor.”
New – Statement from new Fulton District Attorney Fani Willis on Trump/Raffensperger pic.twitter.com/9AWJQYc5yV
— Justin Gray (@JustinGrayWSB) January 4, 2021
David Worley, the sole Democrat on Georgia’s state elections board, told the Times that he plans to make a motion to refer the issue of Trump’s Raffensperger call to Willis’s office at the board’s upcoming February 10 meeting if there’s been no investigation announcement by that point. Worley “believes that such a referral should, under Georgia law, automatically prompt an investigation,” the Times adds, and if that effort fails, then Worley plans to personally request an investigation.
Charges to which Trump could be susceptible include solicitation to commit election fraud, conspiracy, and intentional interference with performance of election duties, the Times explains. Joshua Morrison, who is a former senior assistant district attorney in Fulton County, said that he thinks that “clearly there was a crime committed” by the outgoing president.
Besides the Raffensperger call, Trump made at least two other pressuring phone calls to Georgia state officials. In late December, he spoke on the phone with an investigations chief from Raffensperger’s office who was leading an audit of mail-in ballot envelopes in Cobb County at the time, trying to cajole this official into producing the evidence of imaginary election fraud that Trump wanted to see. Earlier that month, Trump also spoke with Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (R), who he tried to pressure into calling a special session of the state legislature, where state legislators could throw out the certified Biden victory in the state and hand Trump the state’s electoral votes instead.
On his original call with Raffensperger, Trump based his demand to change the state’s certified election outcome on his delusional idea that some kind of nationwide election-rigging scheme handed the election to Biden. In reality, no court anywhere in the country has, at any point, accepted these claims of systematic election fraud in Biden’s favor. The meaningful evidence of widespread fraud just is not and has not ever been there. Complying with Trump’s demands to Georgia officials would have required doctoring duly documented election results.