National Post (National Edition)

Georgia launches probe into Trump call

Raffensper­ger urged to `find 11,780 votes'



WASHINGTON • Prosecutor­s in Georgia's biggest county have opened a criminal investigat­ion into former U.S. President Donald Trump's attempts to influence the state's 2020 election results, ordering government officials on Wednesday to preserve documents in the second known criminal probe facing Trump.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis sent letters to state officials, including Republican­s Secretary of State Brad Raffensper­ger and Gov. Brian Kemp notifying them of the investigat­ion and seeking to preserve “all records potentiall­y related to the administra­tion” of the state's Nov. 3 election.

“This investigat­ion includes, but is not limited to, potential violations of Georgia law prohibitin­g the solicitati­on of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local government bodies, conspiracy, racketeeri­ng, violation of oath of office and any involvemen­t in violence or threats related to the election's administra­tion,” Willis said in the letters, dated Feb. 10.

The letters asked state officials to preserve records, including “those that may be evidence of attempts to influence the actions of persons who were administer­ing that election.”

The investigat­ion by Willis, a Democrat, is the most serious probe facing Trump in Georgia after he was recorded in a Jan. 2 phone call pressuring Raffensper­ger to overturn the state's election results.

Although the letters do not specifical­ly name Trump, a spokesman for Willis said the investigat­ion would include the former Republican president's Jan. 2 call in which he urged Raffensper­ger to “find” enough votes to overturn his Georgia loss. The transcript quotes Trump telling Raffensper­ger: “I just want to find 11,780 votes,” which is the number Trump needed to win.

In addition to the January phone call, Trump made another call in December to Georgia's chief elections investigat­or, Raffensper­ger's office has said.

If Trump were prosecuted, he would likely argue that he genuinely believed the election was rigged against him, the experts said, noting that criminal laws generally require a guilty state of mind or a deliberate intent to carry out a crime — and that this may be a high hurdle to clear in this case.

In a statement, Jason Miller, a senior Trump adviser, accused Democrats of attempting “to score political points by continuing their witch hunt against President Trump,” adding “everybody sees through it.”

A divided U.S. Senate voted largely along party lines on Tuesday to move ahead with Trump's impeachmen­t trial on a charge of inciting the deadly storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6.

The letters were first reported by The New York Times.

Prosecutor­s in New York have also opened criminal and civil investigat­ions into Trump over his businesses.

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