In January, the entirety of America had geared up for the much-awaited election results. Amidst all the anticipation that unfolded, the proceedings witnessed former president Donald Trump take drastic steps to assert his victory. One of them was the phone call to Brad Raffensperger, a fellow Republican from the Georgia secretary of state. On this call, he pressured election officials to manipulate election results to help him reverse his defeat.
Thus, as a result of this event, the Georgia secretary of state’s office has officially started an investigation into this infamous phone call.
What happened on this call?
It was 2nd January when Trump held a one-hour phone call with Raffensperger. He was accompanied by chief of staff Mark Meadows, and trade adviser Peter Navarro. The call also had Justice Department official John Lott Jr., law professor John Eastman, and attorneys Rudy Giuliani, Cleta Mitchell, and Kurt Hilbert. Raffensperger was joined by his general counsel Ryan Germany.
During the phone call, Trump falsely claimed that he had won Georgia by thousands of votes. He insisted the certified election results were incorrect and Raffensperger should reevaluate them. Trump also stated a variety of conspiracy theories about voting in Georgia.
One of his claims was, “We have at least 2 or 3 — anywhere from 250 to 300,000 ballots were dropped mysteriously into the rolls. Much of that had to do with Fulton County, which hasn’t been checked. We think that if you check the signatures — a real check of the signatures going back in Fulton County — you’ll find at least a couple of hundred thousand of forged signatures of people who have been forged. And we are quite sure that’s going to happen.”
To all this, Raffensperger answered responded the election results in that state were accurate and that Trump had misinformation and wrong data.
Trump continued his attempts to pressure Raffensperger into changing the election results. He said, "I just want to find 11,780 votes", the number needed to overcome Biden's advantage in Georgia. Furthermore, Trump also tried to manipulate Raffensperger. He that if Raffensperger and his attorney ignored his allegations of election fraud in Georgia, they could face a possible criminal investigation. "You know, that's a criminal offense. And you know, you can't let that happen. That's a big risk to you,” said Trump.
What does this investigation involve?
A formal launch of an investigation like this is not a very good sign for Trump. It pushes the matter one step closer to the local criminal prosecutor’s office. To begin with, findings will be presented in front of the state’s election board. This board will then take a call on whether to formally refer the matter to the local district attorney’s office or the state attorney general’s office for possible prosecution.
On speaking to VICE NEWS on Monday, Walter Jones, a spokesman for the Georgia secretary of state, said: “Any further legal efforts will be left to the attorney general.”
Legal experts in this situation feel that Trump may have breached both federal and state criminal statutes. It was unlawful on his part to intimidate Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in the pursuit to find enough votes for his win. They also hinted towards the violation of state laws. These include ‘conspiracy to commit election fraud’, ‘criminal solicitation to commit election fraud.’ It also comprises the violation of the law ‘intentional interference with performance of election duties’. It was also seen that Trump resorted to vague conspiracies and alleged about dead people voting to prove his point. On the call, he constantly switched between cajoling, begging, and threatening.
However, the spokesperson of Trump claims that this call was extremely appropriate and no laws were violated. “There was nothing improper or untoward about a scheduled call between President Trump, Secretary Raffensperger, and lawyers on both sides,” Jason Miller, a Trump senior advisor, told The New York Times. He further commented, “If Mr. Raffensperger didn’t want to receive calls about the election, he shouldn’t have run for secretary of state.”
The decision to be taken by the state election board about whether to refer the matter to prosecutors is led by Raffensperger as chairman. It also comprises two Republicans and two Democrats. However, it's still not known how Raffensperger would act on the case. He may or may not involve himself as the final vote of witness.
On the day of the US Capitol riots, Trump hailed the call in a speech to his supporters. He commented, “People love that conversation because it says what’s going on.” “These people are crooked.”
An unknown source told CNN that a local prosecutor’s office is taking the phone call “seriously as a potential case.” It is hoped that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis will make a public announcement on the case sooner or later, in the coming days.
On an evaluation, Trump currently deals with nearly a dozen legal battles. These include a criminal inquiry by the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance, into his business dealings, and several civil lawsuits. Hence, the start of this investigation makes him one step closer to be convicted of engaging in election fraudulent practices.