The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office launched a probe Monday into former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the presidential election, Reuters and The New York Times first reported.
A key focus of the investigation will be Trump’s startling recorded phone call early last month to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger telling him to “find” enough votes to invalidate now-President Joe Biden’s victory in the state.
Raffensperger’s office characterized the probe to both the Times and Reuters as a “fact-finding” review, “administrative in nature,” that was initiated in response to complaints.
“The Secretary of State’s Office investigates complaints it receives,” spokesperson Walter Jones told Reuters. “Any further legal efforts will be left to the attorney general.”
In his Jan. 2 bombshell phone call, Trump was recorded telling Raffensperger, a Republican: “All I want to do is this: I just want to find 11,780 votes” — the number he needed to overturn his loss. The recording of the sometimes-cajoling, sometimes-threatening call was first reported by The Washington Post.
Trump added in the call: “There’s nothing wrong with saying, you know, that you’ve recalculated.” At one point he pleaded: “Fellas, I need 11,000 votes. Give me a break.”
He baselessly claimed repeatedly that the vote was somehow rigged.
Raffensperger responded: “Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is, the data you have is wrong.”
Trump made a similarly demanding phone call in December to Georgia’s chief elections investigator, Raffensperger’s office told Reuters.
The calls were part of Trump’s constant pressure to overturn Georgia voters’ choice for president.
A day after the call to Raffensperger was made public, Reps. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) and Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) called for a criminal investigation in a letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The letter accused Trump of “solicitation of or conspiracy to commit a number of election crimes.”
Trump’s efforts may have violated a number of laws, including state statutes against conspiracy to commit election fraud, criminal solicitation to commit election fraud, and “intentional interference” with the performance of election duties, which are all subject to fines and imprisonment, Reuters noted.
The only Democrat on Georgia’s elections board, David Worley, told the Times Monday that probe findings could result in criminal charges.
“The complaint that was received involved a criminal violation,” he said.
Trump could not immediately be reached for comment.
Trump’s lawyers haven’t disputed the accuracy of the recording, but they have denied that there was anything inappropriate in the call.