Georgia prosecutor launches probe into Trump’s election call

President Donald Trump arrives for a campaign rally at Richard B. Russell Airport, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020, in Rome, Ga. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci via CN)

ATLANTA (CN) — Fulton County’s top prosecutor has opened a criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn his electoral defeat in Georgia, sending letters Wednesday requesting that state officials preserve documents related to Trump’s demand that Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger “find” enough votes to flip the outcome.   

The letter sent by newly elected Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to numerous state election officials, including Raffensperger and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, requested that all records related to the administration of the election 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.” 

Although the letter did not mention Trump by name, the former president has come under scrutiny for a phone call he made to Raffensperger last month in which he demanded Georgia officials change the state’s certified election results.  

“So look. All I want to do is this,” Trump said in a recording of the Jan. 2 phone call with Raffensperger obtained by The Washington Post. “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.” 

During the one-hour call, Trump angrily repeated a string of baseless claims that he lost the election in Georgia to President Joe Biden by 11,779 votes due to widespread ballot fraud. 

Raffensperger pushed back against Trump several times during the call, telling the then-president that he believes Georgia had “an accurate election.” 

Willis, a Democrat, said the investigation includes “potential violations of Georgia election 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.”

Calling the matter a “high priority,” Willis noted that the next Fulton County grand jury is due to convene in March and said her office will begin requesting grand jury subpoenas “as necessary at that time.” 

News of the probe comes days after Raffensperger’s office began its own inquiry into the phone call prompted by a third-party complaint. 

In a statement Wednesday, the government advocacy group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said it had sent a criminal complaint about the call to the DA’s office last month. 

“Trump’s conduct violates not only the law, but the foundation on which our democracy is built. He may have been able to evade facing criminal charges as president, but he is no longer president,” CREW President Noah Bookbinder said. “We applaud Fulton County District Attorney Willis for launching this investigation and showing that no one is above the law.” 

The controversial phone call took place four days before Trump urged his supporters at a rally near the White House to help him fight Congress’s certification of the election results.  

Thousands of the rally attendees immediately marched to the U.S. Capitol, rioting outside and inside the building in a violent attack that left five people dead. 

Trump is now facing a second Senate impeachment trial on a charge of inciting the deadly riot.