On Sunday, the Washington Post published a recording of an extraordinary phone call between President Donald Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which the outgoing president urged Raffensperger, a Republican, to “find” enough votes to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia.
Over the course of the call, which took place on Saturday, Trump raised several baseless claims that some of the ballots cast in the state of Georgia are “corrupt,” as well as evidence-free claims that some unidentified person is “shredding ballots” in the state. Trump claims that Raffensperger and his office’s general counsel, Ryan Germany, are taking a “big risk” — suggesting that Raffensperger and Germany are engaged in criminal conduct themselves by covering up these imagined election crimes. And then Trump drops this bombshell:
All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have because we won the state.
Biden won Georgia by 11,779 votes, so if Raffensperger were to somehow “find” 11,780 votes, Trump would take the lead in that state. Raffensperger, to his credit, repeatedly rebuffed Trump.
Trump’s call with Raffensperger wasn’t just a direct attack on American democracy. It also was most likely a criminal offense. It is a federal felony to knowingly attempt “to deprive or defraud the residents of a State of a fair and impartially conducted election process” through “the procurement, casting, or tabulation of ballots that are known by the person to be materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent under the laws of the State in which the election is held.”
After the recording of Trump’s phone call became public, several prominent lawyers, including former Attorney General Eric Holder, suggested that Trump may have violated this statute.
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