Two House Democrats are calling for a criminal investigation following a recent phone call between President Donald Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which the president pressed the GOP official to overturn the statewide results of the election in his favor.
Democratic Representatives Ted W. Lieu of California and Kathleen Rice of New York on Monday penned a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray asking him to “open an immediate criminal investigation into the President,” alleging the Trump “engaged in solicitation of, or conspiracy to commit, a number of election crimes” over the course of the hour-long call.
On the Saturday call, Trump pressured Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn Joe Biden’s win in the state’s presidential election, repeatedly citing disproven claims of fraud and raising the prospect of “criminal offense” if officials did not change the vote count.
“All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” Trump said during the call. “Because we won the state.”
A recording of the call was first obtained by The Washington Post and published Sunday.
Lieu and Rice argue that the president’s words violated two sections of Title 52 of the United States Code when he asked Sec. Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes” and “recalculate” the legitimately cast votes to turn the election in his favor.
Sections 20511 and 10307 of Title 52 maintain, respectively, that it is illegal for anyone, including federal officials, to “knowingly and willfully” procure ballots that are known to be false; or to willfully fail or refuse to tabulate, count, and report” all properly submitted votes.
Under Georgia state law, it is also a federal offense for a person to solicit another individual to engage in election fraud. Lieu and Rice ask Wray “if you believe Mr. Trump also violated state criminal law, that you refer the state violations to the Georgia Attorney General or the appropriate district attorney in Georgia.”
In an interview with ABC News on Monday, Raffensperger himself declined to say whether or not he thought the president’s actions were lawful.
"I'm not a lawyer. All I know is that we're gonna follow the law, follow the process. Truth matters, and we've been fighting these rumors for the last two months," Raffensperger told George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America.”
But the GOP Secretary of State, who had previously faced pressure from the president and his allies over the election results, made clear to both viewers and the president that his office found no evidence of widespread fraud.
"It was pretty obvious very early on that we debunked every one of those theories that had been out there, but President Trump continues to believe them,” Raffensperger said Monday, adding: “But we took the call, and we had a conversation. He did most of the talking; we did most of the listening. But I did want to make my points that the data that he has is just plain wrong.”
Various election officials across the country and Trump’s former attorney general, William Barr, have said there was no widespread fraud in the election. Republican governors in Arizona and Georgia, key battleground states crucial to Biden’s victory, have also vouched for the integrity of their state elections. Nearly all the legal challenges from Trump and his allies have been dismissed by judges, including two tossed by the Supreme Court, which includes three Trump-nominated justices.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.