The Slatest

Trump Pressured Georgia Elections Investigator to “Find the Fraud” in December Call

Stickers for voters after they have voted, sit on a table at a Cobb County voting location on January 5, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Stickers for voters after they have voted, sit on a table at a Cobb County voting location on January 5, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. Megan Varner/Getty Images

There was another call. Last week, the Washington Post published the audio of a phone call in which President Donald Trump pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes” that could overturn the election results in the state. Now comes news there was an earlier call that could translate into legal woes for the commander in chief, reports the Washington Post. In the lengthy December phone call, which was later confirmed by several other news outlets, Trump urged Georgia’s top elections investigator to “find the fraud.” The president said the investigator would turn into a “national hero” if they were able to prove the fraud claims.

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The call, which took place on December 23, came at a time when the investigator was leading investigations into claims of ballot fraud in Cobb County, a suburb of Atlanta. The Post is not identifying the investigator because election officials are being threatened and harassed. The investigation was launched following allegations that officials had accepted mail-in ballots with signatures that did not match those that were on file. Investigators reviewed more than 15,000 signatures and found no cases of fraud.

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Raffensperger said he was not familiar with the contents of the call but still said it was inappropriate for Trump to try to intervene. “That was an ongoing investigation,” Raffensperger said. “I don’t believe that an elected official should be involved in that process.” Legal experts say that the president’s efforts to get involved in an ongoing investigation could amount to obstruction of justice, although a case could ultimately be difficult to prove. “Oh my god, of course that’s obstruction — any way you cut it,” Nick Akerman, a former federal prosecutor in New York, tells the Post. As Akerman sees it, the way Trump identified the investigator and made the phone call “shows that he’s trying to influence the outcome of what’s going on.” In this case though it doesn’t seem there’s audio of the call, which could make a case harder to prove.

The call to the investigator means Trump placed at least three calls to Georgia officials in an effort to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state. First, Trump called Gov. Brian Kemp in early December to criticize him for certifying the state’s results showing Biden won by 11,779 votes. He then called the investigator and a little more than a week later he called Raffensperger. Trump has repeatedly criticized both Kemp and Raffensperger since the election.

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