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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Georgia Authorities Now Probing Trump's Attempt To Overturn Election

Screenshot from the official Georgia secretary of state website (sos.ga.gov)

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

The Georgia secretary of state's office has launched an investigation into Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the state's presidential election results. Those efforts included a January call to Brad Raffensperger, the head of the office, in which Trump pressured Raffensperger to "find 11,780 votes"—the number needed to put Trump ahead of President Biden—as well as a call to the state's lead voter fraud investigator and public pressure on Georgia officials up to and including Gov. Brian Kemp. In the wake of Trump's mention on the Raffensperger call of a "never-Trumper U.S. attorney," Byung J. Pak abruptly resigned as U.S. attorney.

There's a lot to investigate, in other words. The current investigation is "fact-finding and administrative in nature," coming in response to complaints the secretary of state's office has received. The findings of this inquiry will go to the state's board of elections, which is controlled by Republicans (as is the secretary of state's office). The board of elections then decides whether to refer the complaint to the state attorney general.

This investigation is causing David Worley, the single Democrat on the board of elections, to hold off on introducing his own motion to refer Trump to the Fulton County district attorney at the board's next meeting. "Any investigation of a statutory violation is a potential criminal investigation depending on the statute involved," Worley said, and in Trump's case, "The complaint that was received involved a criminal violation."

At the same time, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, a Democrat, is considering whether to launch her own criminal inquiry.

"Former prosecutors said Mr. Trump's calls might run afoul of at least three state laws," The New York Times reports. "One is criminal solicitation to commit election fraud, which can be either a felony or a misdemeanor; as a felony, it is punishable by at least a year in prison. There is also a related conspiracy charge, which can be prosecuted either as a misdemeanor or a felony. A third law, a misdemeanor offense, bars 'intentional interference' with another person's 'performance of election duties.'"

It's hard to listen to audio of Trump's call with Raffensperger and conclude he didn't violate at least one of these laws, in particular the criminal solicitation to commit election fraud. But we are talking about a Georgia state government controlled by Republicans, and a U.S. justice system that is not built to deliver accountability to powerful people.

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