The Georgia state investigation into Donald Trump's post-election pressuring phone call to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to "find the votes" to overturn the presidential election in the state is now a full-fledged criminal probe of Trump, as expected.
Prosecutors in Fulton County have initiated a criminal investigation into former President Donald J. Trump’s attempts to overturn Georgia’s election results, including a phone call he made to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which Mr. Trump pressured him to “find” enough votes to help him reverse his loss.
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.
The inquiry comes as Mr. Trump faces a second impeachment trial in Washington this week, on a charge of “incitement of insurrection” for his role in stirring up the mob that attacked the Capitol on Jan 6. The violence that day followed weeks of false claims by the former president that election fraud deprived him of victory, including in Georgia, where he lost by about 12,000 votes.
For two months after Joseph R. Biden Jr. was declared the winner, Mr. Trump relentlessly attacked election officials in Georgia, including Mr. Raffensperger and the Republican governor, Brian Kemp, claiming they were not doing enough to uncover instances of voting fraud that might change the outcome. In addition to the phone call to Mr. Raffensperger, he also called Gov. Brian Kemp in early December and pressured him to call a special legislative session to overturn his election loss. Later that month, Mr. Trump called a state investigator and pressed the official to “find the fraud,” according to those with knowledge of the call.
The inquiry makes Georgia the second state after New York where Mr. Trump faces a criminal investigation. And it comes in a jurisdiction where potential jurors are unlikely to be hospitable to the former president; Fulton County encompasses most of Atlanta and overwhelmingly supported President Biden in the November election.
The Fulton County investigation comes on the heels of a decision Monday by Mr. Raffensperger’s office to open an administrative inquiry.
Ms. Willis has been weighing for several weeks whether to open an inquiry, after Mr. Trump’s phone call to Mr. Raffensperger on Jan. 2 alarmed election experts who call it an extraordinary intervention into a state’s electoral process.
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.”
I know my standing prediction is that Trump will never be indicted, let alone convicted, so that applies to Georgia even more than New York. I absolutely believe Gov. Brian Kemp will move against Fani Willis and openly interfere in the case, with Willis most likely being removed from the investigation, or the investigation being moved out of her hands to another Trump-friendlier prosecutor.
And as with New York, prosecutors could decide that it's simply too dangerous to prosecute safely, arguing that Trump supporters are in fact deadly armed domestic terrorists who are liable to harm prosecutors, officers of the court, journalists, and regular people.
That's going to be fun, huh?
But there's the chance I will be wrong and Trump really is indicted by a state court.
We'll see what happens, but again, I would not get your hopes up for any accountability.