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House Democrats urge FBI to open criminal investigation into Trump call

Donald Trump
Posted at 10:41 AM, Jan 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-04 12:56:47-05

Two House Democrats are calling on the FBI to open a criminal investigation into President Trump's explosive call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger for possible violations of federal and state election laws.

Congressman Ted Lieu of California and Congresswoman Kathleen Rice of New York made their request in a letter to FBI Director Chris Wray on Monday after audio of Mr. Trump's hour-long call with Raffensperger was obtained and published by several news outlets Sunday, including CBS News. In the call, the president pressured the secretary of state to "find 11,780 votes" to reverse his loss in Georgia's presidential election.

"The evidence of election fraud by Mr. Trump is now in broad daylight," the two Democrats wrote. "The prima facie elements of the above crimes have been met."

Lieu and Rice, both former prosecutors, believe the president "engaged in solicitation of, or conspiracy to commit, a number of election crimes." The pair cited two federal laws they believe Mr. Trump violated, as well as one Georgia state law regarding solicitation of election fraud.

In the course of their conversation, Mr. Trump told Raffensperger, "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."

"The people of Georgia are angry, the people in the country are angry," the president said. "And there's nothing wrong with saying that, you know, um, that you've recalculated."

President-elect Joe Biden defeated Mr. Trump in Georgia by 11,779 votes, and ballots cast in the state have been counted a total of three times, with Mr. Biden's win affirmed each time.

The president repeatedly claimed in the call that he won the election in the Peach State and suggested ballots had been shredded in Fulton County. The president also claimed Dominion Voting Systems, a supplier of election technology, was removing or tampering with machinery.

Raffensperger and his general counsel Ryan Germany, who was also on the call, repeatedly pushed back against Mr. Trump's claims, with the secretary of state asserting the state's election results were "accurate."

"Mr. President, the challenge that you have is that the data you have is wrong," Raffensperger told the president.

Mr. Trump's comments have raised questions as to whether he could come under legal scrutiny.

Raffensperger told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Monday his office would not be opening an investigation as it could be a conflict of interest, but he believes the Fulton County district attorney "wants to look at it."

"Maybe that's the appropriate venue for it to go," he said.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder, who led the Justice Department under President Obama, tweeted Sunday that those listening to the audio of Mr. Trump's call should "consider this federal criminal statute," and he included an image of a law that states that any person in a federal election who "knowingly and willfully deprives, defrauds, or attempts to deprive or defraud the residents of a State of a fair and impartially conducted election process, by … 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" would be fined or imprisoned for up to five years.