On Monday, the office of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, opened an investigation into ex-President Donald Trump’s attempts to meddle in the election outcome in the state. Among other examples of the then-president’s behavior, Trump once spoke directly with Raffensperger over the phone and implored the top Republican official to “find” enough votes to swing the state away from Joe Biden, who was the first Democratic presidential nominee to win the state since the early 1990s. Since no meaningful evidence existed for Trump’s claims that fraud was responsible for Biden’s win, fulfilling his demand to “find” votes would have required fraudulently adjusting the numbers.
Walter Jones, who serves as a spokesperson for Raffensperger’s office, characterized the new investigation as “fact-finding and administrative in nature,” adding that “further legal efforts will be left to the Attorney General.” As The New York Times explains in reference to the standard for such investigations, “Findings are typically brought before the Republican-controlled state board of elections, which decides whether to refer them for prosecution to the state attorney general or another agency.” Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, whose jurisdiction is in the Atlanta area, is already “weighing whether to begin a criminal inquiry of her own,” the Times adds.
David Worley, who is the only Democratic member of the Georgia state elections board, pointed to a potential path to criminal proceedings, commenting as follows:
‘Any investigation of a statutory violation is a potential criminal investigation depending on the statute involved. The complaint that was received involved a criminal violation.’
Besides Trump’s infamous call to Raffensperger — which was recorded in its entirety — Trump also spoke over the phone with Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (R) and an investigator from Raffensperger’s office who was handling an audit of mail-in ballot signatures in Cobb County. That audit concluded with no findings of any systematic fraud like Trump and his allies alleged was present. Previously, Trump asked Kemp to summon a special session of the state legislature, where Georgia legislators could overturn Biden’s certified election victory, and Trump subsequently begged the Cobb investigator to “find the fraud.”
As the Times explains, Trump’s behavior could have violated at least three laws via “criminal solicitation to commit election fraud,” a “related conspiracy charge,” and a ban on intentionally interfering with official election-related procedure. Now that Trump is out of office, he no longer has any of the potential protections from criminal proceedings that the presidency provided, and he’s also facing at least one other criminal investigation from Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, who is investigating Trump’s family business.