Georgia prosecutors open criminal investigation into Donald Trump phone call
Prosecutors in Fulton county, Georgia, are investigating Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the southern state’s 2020 presidential election results, according to a letter, in the second criminal investigation faced by the former president. The Fulton county district attorney, Fani Willis, has sent a letter asking state government officials to preserve documents, including those related to the then president’s call to the Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, pressuring him to “find” more votes.
“This matter is of high priority, and I am confident that as fellow law enforcement officers sworn to uphold the constitutions of the United States and Georgia, our acquisition of information and evidence of potential crimes via interviews, documents, videos and electronic records will be cooperative,” said the letter dated 10 February.
“This letter is notification that all records potentially related to the administration of the 2020 general election must be preserved, with particular care being given to set aside and preserve those that may be evidence of attempts to influence the actions of persons who were administering that election.“
Representatives for the county prosecutor’s office and for Trump did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
On Monday, Raffensperger’s office opened its own investigation into Trump’s 2 January phone call pressuring him to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s 3 November victory in the state, based on unfounded voter fraud claims by the Trump team. Raffensperger said any further legal efforts would be up to the state’s attorney general.
The New York Times first reported the investigation.
Trump also faces criminal and civil fraud investigations in New York, with an ongoing crime inquiry into his finances by the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance, and a civil investigation by New York attorney general, Letitia James.
The announcement of the Georgia investigation is important for Willis, who is new to the post.
She is the first African American woman to hold the job in Georgia’s most populous county, the New York Times further reported, and has promised reforms.
Willis is tackling high homicide numbers in Atlanta as well as a review of the handling of the police killing of Rayshard Brooks, last June.
On Wednesday, Fani T. 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 “an investigation into attempts to influence” the state’s 2020 presidential election.
While the letter does not mention Mr. Trump by name, it is related to his efforts to change the outcome of Georgia’s election, according to a state official with knowledge of the matter. A copy of the letter was obtained by The New York Times.
Of particular note in Ms. Willis’s letter was the wider scope of the investigation. Potential violations of state law include “the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local governmental bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election’s administration,” the letter states.
The state official said that, in addition to the call to Mr. Raffensperger, Ms. Willis’s inquiry would encompass Mr. Trump’s outreach to other Georgia officials in an attempt to reverse his loss. These include a call to a top elections investigator in which Mr. Trump asked the official to “find the fraud”; a call in which Mr. Trump urged Gov. Brian Kemp to call a special session of the legislature to review the election results; and a conversation with the attorney general of Georgia, Chris Carr, in which Mr. Trump warned him not to interfere in a Texas lawsuit seeking to overturn the results in Georgia and other states.
The investigation will also look into the events surrounding the abrupt resignation in January of Atlanta’s federal prosecutor, Byung J. Pak, after Mr. Trump complained to Justice Department officials that Mr. Pak was not pursuing his claims of election fraud, the official said.
In the letter, Ms. Willis said that her office would request subpoenas “as necessary” when the next Fulton County grand jury convenes in March. In addition to Mr. Raffensperger, the letter was sent to Mr. Kemp, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and Mr. Carr, all of whom are Republicans.
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