Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger was so stunned by then-President Donald Trump’s demands that he “find” enough votes to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election that he released audio of the phone call in which those demands were made to the press, which immediately caused the same sort of controversy that most of Trump’s actions did during his presidency. Now, however, Trump faces an all-new legal challenge as a result of those calls, as Georgia prosecutors have announced a criminal investigation of those calls.
Breaking News: Georgia prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into Donald Trump’s phone call to the Georgia secretary of state asking him to “find” votes.https://t.co/ovMkxXsxlb
— The New York Times (@nytimes) February 10, 2021
According to Georgia law, “a person commits the offense of criminal solicitation to commit election fraud in the first degree when, with intent that another person engage in conduct constituting a felony under this article, he or she solicits, requests, commands, importunes, or otherwise attempts to cause the other person to engage in such conduct.” The crime carries a stiff, mandated penalty, as “a person convicted of the offense of criminal solicitation to commit election fraud in the first degree shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than three years,” and “it is no defense to a prosecution for criminal solicitation to commit election fraud that the person solicited could not be guilty of the crime solicited.” In other words, it doesn’t matter if Trump himself committed the fraud, or whether or not the person solicited carried out the commands. The solicitation itself is a felony.
The New York Times reports that:
‘On Wednesday, Fani Willis, the recently elected Democratic prosecutor in Fulton County, sent a letter to numerous officials in state government, including Mr. Raffensperger, requesting that they preserve documents related to Mr. Trump’s call, according to a state official with knowledge of the letter. The letter explicitly stated that the request was part of a criminal investigation, said the official, who insisted on anonymity to discuss internal matters.’
Full Transcript and audio recording of call.https://t.co/PTWOfWqfxc
— Fr. Robert R. Ballecer, SJ (@padresj) February 9, 2021
Criminal solicitation would include demanding that an elected official with power over the electoral process “find” votes, and Trump is heard making threats to Raffensberger and his attorney that they were taking a “big risk” of criminal prosecution if they refused to do so. It is unlikely that the call can be spun any other way by any criminal defense attorney.
In a transcript of the phone call, Trump was revealed to have said:
‘You know what they did and you’re not reporting it. That’s a criminal — that’s a criminal offense. And you can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer. And that’s a big risk. But they are shredding ballots, in my opinion, based on what I’ve heard. And they are removing machinery and they’re moving it as fast as they can, both of which are criminal finds. And you can’t let it happen and you are letting it happen. You know, I mean, I’m notifying you that you’re letting it happen. So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes.’
Trump’s call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger should not be overlooked. In fact, it only bolsters the argument to bar him from holding office ever again.https://t.co/aJ2nBFhvHc
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) February 8, 2021
Trump not only faces criminal charges in Georgia, but also in his original home state of New York for potential tax and bank fraud. Additionally, he doesn’t just face a criminal solicitation charge, but also charges of conspiracy to commit election fraud and intentional interference of Raffensberger’s duties as an election official.
‘Former prosecutors said Mr. Trump’s calls might run afoul of at least three state laws. One is criminal solicitation to commit election fraud, which can be either a felony or a misdemeanor; as a felony, it is punishable by at least a year in prison. There is also a related conspiracy charge, which can be prosecuted either as a misdemeanor or a felony. A third law, a misdemeanor offense, bars “intentional interference” with another person’s “performance of election duties.”’
Georgia officials launch an investigation into Trump’s phone call to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to pressure him to overturn election results https://t.co/w1EfKTtvC5
— Bloomberg (@business) February 9, 2021