Trump's demand that Georgia's secretary of state magically procure enough votes for him to win could amount to an unpardonable state crime.
Donald Trump could find himself in yet more legal jeopardy after he was caught on tape asking Georgia's top election official, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, to pull 11,780 votes out of thin air to overturn President-elect Joe Biden's victory in the Peach State. A recording of the request was first obtained by the Washington Post and published Sunday.
Experts say Trump's demand appears to be a violation of both federal and Georgia law — the latter of which would be unpardonable by Trump before he leaves office. Trump's allies have been urging him to pardon himself and his family before his term expires on Jan. 20.
Federal law experts say Trump appears to have violated is 52 U.S. Code § 20511, which prohibits people from knowingly and willfully attempting to meddle in the "tabulation of ballots that are known by the person to be materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent." Violating the law could lead to fines and up to five years in prison, or both.
"Unless there are portions of the tape that somehow negate criminal intent, 'I just want to find 11,780 votes' and his threats against Raffensperger and his counsel violate 52 U.S. Code § 20511," Michael R. Bromwich, a former federal prosecutor and former inspector general at the Department of Justice, tweeted. "His best defense would be insanity."
In addition, the Georgia law banning even attempted election fraud is § 21-2-604, which says:
A person commits the offense of criminal solicitation to commit election fraud in the first degree when, with intent that another person engage in conduct constituting a felony under this article, he or she solicits, requests, commands, importunes, or otherwise attempts to cause the other person to engage in such conduct.
The state law is punishable by "imprisonment for not less than one nor more than three years."
Trump's call to Raffensperger is the latest in a string of moves Trump has tried to coerce Republican officials across the country into helping him steal the election he lost to Biden in a landslide.
Trump appears to be particularly angry that he lost Georgia, which had not voted for a Democratic presidential nominee since 1992. Trump officially lost to Biden in the Peach State by 11,779 votes — which multiple recounts confirmed. Finding 11,780 votes would be just enough to overturn his loss.
Trump also tried to get the GOP-controlled legislatures in Michigan and Pennsylvania to ignore the will of the voters in those states to seat Electoral College electors who back Trump. Both refused, and Biden's 306 to 232 Electoral College victory was sealed on Dec. 14.
Now, Trump is urging congressional Republicans to refuse to accept the Electoral College results on Jan. 6. A number of Republican lawmakers agreed to object to the Electoral College results, yet the effort will fail, as Democrats control the House.
To date, Trump's efforts have been panned as anti-democratic.
Some are arguing that his overt request that Raffensperger magically procure enough ballots to make him the winner of the state went a step further, putting him into legal jeopardy.
"I wonder if Trump knows you can commit a state crime in Georgia by telephone from DC, and you can't pardon yourself or your henchmen on state charges," Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) tweeted.
Other Democrats are calling on Trump to be prosecuted.
"Trump *on tape* yesterday asking Georgia’s top election official to 'find' new votes seems like an open-and-shut Federal (and state) crime," Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) tweeted. "Trump must be prosecuted once he leaves office."
It's unclear whether Trump will face charges for his actions.
However, a member of the Georgia State Election Board wrote a letter to Raffensperger on Sunday asking Raffensperger to open an investigation into the matter "to determine whether violations of the provisions of the Official Code of Georgia ... have occurred."
"Although I have not yet received a formal complaint, such an incident, splashed as it is across every local and national news outlet, cannot be ignored or brushed aside by members of the [State Election Board]," David Worley, the one Democrat member of the Georgia SEB, wrote in an email to Raffensperger, according to a copy obtained by the New York Times.
Trump faces multiple other criminal liabilities as his first and only term in office comes to an end, including two probes in New York about whether Trump committed tax fraud and other financial crimes.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.