A prominent attorney and legal scholar is calling for a criminal investigation of Donald Trump's phone call Saturday to pressure Georgia's top election official to "recalculate" vote totals so that Trump would be determined the winner in the state's presidential election. From a report at politicususa.com:
Neal Katyal says that a criminal offense may have been committed on the #TrumpTapes and the DOJ needs to open an investigation if not now, then on January 20 after Biden takes office.
Katyal said on MSNBC:
Trump asking the Georgia officials to find him 11,780 votes. Maybe that works in the Soviet Union or something, but it is not the way that American government has operated. So I see both, you know, really truly an impeachable offense here in is the heart of what abuse of power that our founders worried about so much. It is the idea that a government official can use the power of his office to stay in office to try and browbeat other officials that disagree with him. So whether or not a high crime and misdemeanor has been committed, the tape makes it sound like there has. The second is whether or not there is a criminal offense and the federal code 53 USC 2511 prohibits a federal official from interfering in a state election process. And again, that sure seems like what we heard on the tape. and so I think the Justice Department has to open an investigation if not now, then at least on January 20. I think that is the least of what will happen here.”
Katyal also said that criminal liability to prosecute Trump would be easier because the Justice Department will no longer be protecting him. It is fairly clear that Trump committed election fraud when he tried to pressure Georgia Republicans into finding enough votes to overturn the election for him.
The Georgia call will likely not be Trump’s last potential criminal offense, and the right thing for the incoming DOJ to do would be to launch an investigation into Donald Trump’s election-related crimes.
Katyal was not the only expert to address the possibility of criminality related to Trump's phone call. From a report at Yahoo!:
As word spread Sunday of President Trump’s astonishing phone conversation with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger the day before, there was widespread speculation that the president had committed one or more crimes in his effort to overturn the results of the election in Georgia, including extortion and, ironically, election fraud.
A recording of the one-hour call was released Sunday by The Washington Post. The president is heard pressuring Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes” that would put him in the lead over President-elect Joe Biden in Georgia, which has already certified its results.
Trump also threatens Raffensperger with the possibility of criminal charges unless he comes up with the votes to overturn the election results.
“You know, that’s a criminal — that’s a criminal offense. And you know, you can’t let that happen,” Trump says on the call. “That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer. That’s a big risk.”
The Post did not say who recorded the call or how it obtained the tape.
Trump offered no direct evidence of voter fraud in Georgia, instead offering second-hand conspiracy theories about manipulated voting machines, ballots being scanned multiple times and votes simply being thrown out — all of which were investigated by Georgia law enforcement and the FBI, and found to be untrue. But Trump went beyond trying to prove that he won the state by “hundreds of thousands of votes,” pressuring Raffensperger to simply announce a new vote total showing him beating Biden.
“There’s nothing wrong with saying that, you know, that you’ve recalculated,” the president said.
Joined on the call by his general counsel, Ryan Germany, Raffensperger calmly and methodically disputes Trump’s election theories.
“Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is the data you have is wrong,” Raffensperger said.
Trump’s actions could constitute election fraud. Section 52 of the U.S. Code concerns voting and elections, and provides for a sentence of up to five years. . . .
Trump’s citing possible criminal charges for Raffensperger unless he produces a different election result in Georgia could be seen as extortion, which section 18, chapter 41 of the U.S. code expressly prohibits.
The former lead counsel in Trump’s impeachment trial — which was predicated on what Trump called his “perfect phone call” to the president of Ukraine — agreed that this was also a less-than-perfect call by the president.
NYU law professor and former DOJ lawyer Andrew Weissmann also noted the similarity with Trump’s attempts to pressure Ukraine’s government to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden. Said Weissmann: Trump's threats to Georgia Sec of State; Trump, to Ukraine President; Trump to US Senators who won't violate the Constitution for him - and on and on - are all examples of POTUS criminal extortion and election tampering. And those who knowingly assist him violate 18 USC 2 & 371.