March 2, 2021

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Georgia Prosecutors Open Criminal Investigation of Trump Phone Call – The New York Times

2 min read

Ms. Willis has been weighing for several weeks whether to open an inquiry, after Mr. Trump’s phone call to Mr. Raffensperger on Jan. 2 alarmed election experts who call it an extraordinary intervention into a state’s electoral process.

Former prosecutors said Mr. Trump’s calls might run afoul of at least three state laws. 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.”

Mr. Biden’s victory in Georgia was reaffirmed after election officials recertified the state’s presidential election results in three separate counts of the ballots: the initial election tally; a hand recount ordered by the state; and another recount, which was requested by Mr. Trump’s campaign and completed by machines.

Mr. Biden was the first Democrat to win the presidential election in Georgia since 1992. Mr. Trump accused Gov. Brian Kemp and Mr. Raffensperger, both Republicans, of not doing enough to help him overturn the result in the weeks after the election. Mr. Kemp and Mr. Raffensperger had each resisted numerous attacks from Mr. Trump who called the governor “hapless” and he called on the secretary of state to resign.

The Georgia investigation comes as Mr. Trump is also facing an ongoing criminal fraud inquiry into his finances by the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., and a civil fraud inquiry by the New York attorney general, Letitia James.

The mere beginning of an investigation into the polarizing former president could be a career-defining moment for Ms. Willis, who took office in January. She is the first African-American woman to hold the job in Georgia’s most populous county, and has already faced some daunting challenges: Atlanta is coming off a year with a high number of homicides, and Ms. Willis has promised an ambitious set of changes to the office, as well as a review of her predecessor’s controversial handling of the police shooting of a Black man, Rayshard Brooks, in June.

If Mr. Trump were to be convicted of a state crime in New York or Georgia, a federal pardon would not be applicable. In Georgia, Mr. Trump cannot look to Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, for a state pardon, and not just because the two have a fractured relationship. In Georgia, pardons are granted only by the state board of pardons and paroles.

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