Law & the Courts

Georgia Elections Officials Launch Probe into Trump Phone Calls

Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger at the capitol in Atlanta, November 6, 2020 (Dustin Chambers / Reuters)

The Georgia Secretary of State’s office on Monday began an investigation into former president Trump’s phone calls to state election officials during which he urged them to overturn President Biden’s win in the state.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office launched the probe after receiving several formal complaints filed by a law professor, who alleged Trump broke the law during his phone calls to Raffensperger and others.

“The Secretary of State’s office investigates complaints it receives,” Walter Jones, a spokesman for Raffensperger’s office, said in a statement Monday. “The investigations are fact-finding and administrative in nature. Any further legal efforts will be left to the Attorney General.”

Early last month, Trump pressured Raffensperger during a phone call with him and and his office’s general counsel to “find” the votes necessary to overturn his election loss in Georgia, at one point warning him that he is taking “a big risk” if he declines to do so, according to an audio recording released by Raffensperger’s office.

Raffensperger and his office’s general counsel repeatedly told the president during the call that they believed their tally showing Biden with a slim 11,779-vote advantage in Georgia was accurate.

“So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state,” Trump says on the call.

The morning after the call, Trump lashed out at Raffensperger on Twitter, saying he is “unwilling, or unable, to answer questions” about alleged election problems in Georgia.

“There was nothing improper or untoward about a scheduled call between President Trump, Secretary Raffensperger and lawyers on both sides. If Mr. Raffensperger didn’t want to receive calls about the election, he shouldn’t have run for secretary of state,” Jason Miller, a senior adviser to Trump, said in a statement.

Trump also called Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp in early December and urged him to call a special legislative session to overturn Biden’s election victory. Later in December, Trump reportedly called a state investigator and told him he must “find the fraud.”

The law professor who filed the complaints, George Washington University Law School professor John Banzhaf III, said his complaint requests “that this matter be fully investigated, and action be taken to the extent appropriate.”

The complaint suggests Trump may have broken one of three laws, conspiracy to commit election fraud, criminal solicitation to commit election fraud, and “intentional interference” with the “performance of election duties.”

Findings will be presented to the GOP-controlled state election board, which will decide whether to refer the matter to the state attorney general for prosecution.

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