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Georgia prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump for his efforts to challenge the state’s presidential election results, according to The New York Times.
Fulton County recently elected Democratic prosecutor, Fani Willis, sent a letter to state officials on Wednesday requesting that they preserve documents and records related to a Jan. 2 phone call between then-President Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. The letter specifically said that Trump was under criminal investigation for his conduct during the call, a state official familiar with the letter told The New York Times.
Willis considered launching a criminal investigation into the former president for weeks after the full audio of Trump’s phone call with Raffensperger was leaked to the press. Former prosecutors told The New York Times what the Fulton County investigators may be looking for in the Jan. 2 phone call:
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.”
News of the criminal investigation follows a Monday decision by Raffensperger’s office to open an administrative investigation into Trump over the phone call. The investigation was prompted by a complaint by George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf III.
“The secretary of state’s office investigates complaints it receives. The investigations are fact-finding and administrative in nature. Any further legal efforts will be left to the attorney general,” Raffensperger’s office said in a statement.
During the Jan. 2 phone call, Trump insisted that he had won Georgia’s election if all legal votes were tallied and claimed he had evidence to show that Georgia election officials were wrong in their official count. As The Daily Wire reported:
On the recording, Trump appears to insist that he won the state by an overwhelming majority, and asks Raffensperger to “recalculate” the vote count.
“I just want to find 11,780 votes,” Trump says, though from the conversation it appears he believes those votes were “stolen” in incidents of election fraud, not that he believes Raffensperger could manufacture the votes out of thin air.
“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 states. “Flipping the state is a great testament to our country; it’s a testament that they can admit to a mistake. A lot of people think it wasn’t a mistake, it was much more criminal than that. But it’s a big problem in Georgia and it’s not a problem that’s going away.”
Trump goes on to say that there is “no way I lost Georgia. There’s no way. We won by hundreds of thousands of votes,” and that Raffensperger should “be careful of the political corruption” in places like Fulton County, where he claims ballots were “shredded” and where he suggests that voting machine manufacturer Dominion “is moving fast to get rid of their machinery.”
Dominion has repeatedly denied any involvement in a widespread conspiracy to subvert the outcome of the 2020 presidential election in November.