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Prosecutors in Georgia’s biggest county have opened a criminal investigation into Trump’s efforts to influence the state’s 2020 election results, ordering government officials on Wednesday to preserve documents.
News of the investigation in Fulton County came on the second day of Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate, during which Dean described the former president's pressure campaign against Raffensperger, who received death threats after Trump called him "an enemy of the people."
"Senators, we must not become numb to this," said Dean. "Public officials like you and me receive death threats and calls threatening criminal penalties all because Trump wanted to remain in power."
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis sent letters to state officials, including Republicans Raffensperger and Governor Brian Kemp notifying them of the investigation and seeking to preserve "all records potentially related to the administration" of the state’s Nov. 3 election.
"This investigation includes, but is not limited to, potential violations of Georgia 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," Willis said in the letters, dated Feb. 10 and reviewed by Reuters.
The letters asked state officials to preserve records, including “those that may be evidence of attempts to influence the actions of persons who were administering that election."
The investigation by Willis, a Democrat, is the most serious probe facing Trump in Georgia after he was recorded in a Jan. 2 phone call pressuring Raffensperger to overturn the state's election results based on unfounded voter fraud claims.
- Trump urged him, "find the fraud" and claimed the official would be a national hero if he did. Let's call this what it is, he was asking the official to say there was evidence of fraud when there wasn't any. The official refused and the investigation was completed. And on December 29, Raffensperger announced that the audit found quote, "no fraudulent absentee ballots with a 99% confidence level."
On January 3, Trump tweeted about a call he had with a Georgian election official the day before. On January the 5, the "Washington Post" released a recording of that call, which had occurred on January 2. Remember, just four days before the attack on the Capitol. Here is what President Trump said.
DONALD TRUMP (IN RECORDING): It's more illegal for you than it is for them, because you know what they did and you're not reporting it. That's a criminal offense. And you can't let that happen. That's a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer, that's a big risk.
- This is the President of the United States telling a Secretary of State that if he does not find votes he will face criminal penalties. And not just any number of votes, Donald Trump was asking the Secretary of State to somehow find the exact number of votes Donald Trump lost the state by. He wanted the Secretary of State to somehow find the precise number plus one, so that he could win. Here's what he said.
DONALD TRUMP (IN RECORDING): So look, all I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have.
- He says it right there, the President of the United States telling a public official to manufacture the exact votes needed so he can win. Senators, we must not become numb to this. Trump did this across state after state so often, so loudly, so publicly. Public officials, like you and me, received death threats and calls threatening criminal penalties all because Trump wanted to remain in power. These public officials exercised great political and personal courage in the face of unprecedented pressure from a President of the United States.