Politics & Policy

Georgia Prosecutors Open Criminal Investigation into Trump-Raffensperger Call

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger gives an update on the state of the election at the State Capitol in Atlanta, Ga., November 6, 2020. (Dustin Chambers/Reuters)

Prosecutors in Fulton County, Ga. have opened a criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the state’s election results, including a phone call in which he pressured Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to change the outcome.

Fani Willis, the newly elected Democratic prosecutor in Fulton County, sent a letter to state government officials on Wednesday asking that they preserve documents related to Trump’s call, explaining that the request was part of a criminal investigation, according to the New York Times.

The move comes days after Raffensperger’s office announced on Monday it would open an administrative inquiry into the call.

In the weeks after the election, Trump refused to concede to President Joe Biden. Trump made assertions that the election was rigged and that the outcome was the result of widespread voter fraud — claims which election officials have disputed.

He publicly sparred with Raffensperger and Governor Brian Kemp — both of whom are Republicans — accusing them of not doing enough to investigate voter fraud. He called Kemp “hapless” and called on Raffensperger to resign.

Before calling Raffensperger on January 2, he called Kemp in early December and tried to persuade him to call a special legislative session to overturn his election loss. Trump later called a state investigator and pushed the official to “find the fraud,” according to the Times.

Former prosecutors have said the call to Raffensperger may have violated at least three state laws: criminal solicitation to commit election fraud and a related conspiracy charge, as well as a law that bars “intentional interference” with another person’s “performance of election duties.”

The first two can be either felonies or misdemeanors and the third is a misdemeanor offense.

Trump also faces an ongoing criminal fraud investigation into his finances in New York by Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., and a civil fraud inquiry by New York attorney general Letitia James.

If either criminal investigation yields an eventual conviction, a federal pardon would not be applicable. Kemp would also be unable to pardon Trump in Georgia as only the state board of pardons and paroles has the power to do so.

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