During an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press over the weekend, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, suggested new criminal investigative efforts, apparently at the federal level, to examine attempts by former President Trump and others to meddle with the presidential election in Georgia. At present, Atlanta-area District Attorney Fani Willis is conducting a criminal investigation of matters related to that issue, and she has recently been reported to have moved the investigation forward through means like interviews with key individuals.
On more of a meta level, the Senate Judiciary Committee recently released an interim report from its ongoing investigation into attempts to use the Justice Department to affect the election outcome, and Whitehouse characterized the committee as possessing a “very complete picture” of Trump’s role in the corruption. As the Senator put it on NBC:
‘We have a very complete picture of the extent to which Trump was personally involved in this. This is a question in which you can actually connect the president of the United States to the scheme.’
Trump’s focus on Georgia included personal contacts with top officials there. Infamously, the then-president at one point implored Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to swing the election from Biden, who’d won in Georgia. Raffensperger refused, but other lines of pressure were present, from longtime Trump ally Rudy Giuliani’s promotion of false claims about the integrity of the election at Georgia legislative hearings to a visit by then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to the site of an audit of signatures submitted with mail-in ballots in Cobb County. Considering his then-role as a federal official, there was an obvious undercurrent of pressure to Meadows’s Georgia stop.
On NBC, host Chuck Todd posed the following question to Whitehouse, discussing the Judiciary Committee’s report:
‘At the end of the report, there’s some talk of criminal referrals. What would be criminal in this case?’
The Senator replied as follows:
‘I don’t want to get into criminal referrals; we’re still at the interim level. But I would point to just the geographic fact of so much of what took place at the Department of Justice being focused on Georgia. Being focused on sending letters to the Georgia legislature saying that they could open up in special session and redo the election and send a separate slate [of electors], and the extent to which that interconnects with the DA’s investigation into Trump’s personal efforts to threaten officials in Georgia on the same question, I think, is a very ripe area for at least Georgia’s further investigation, and we’ll see what the Department of Justice wants to do with it.’