Wednesday, May 17, 2023

During unruly CNN town hall, Donald Trump unwittingly might have provided Georgia DA with proof of his intent to interfere with 2020 election

Donald Trump and Kaitlan Collins

Donald Trump apparently succeeded at turning last week's CNN town hall into an episode of "Train-Wreck Television," which proved to be a ratings winner, despite heavy criticism directed at the network. Trump, however, might have failed by unwittingly providing a Georgia prosecutor with evidence to use against him, according to a report at Raw Story. Under the headline "Trump just admitted evidence of 'vigilante justice' to the Fulton County DA: legal expert," Maya Boddie writes:

Former President Donald Trump could be indicted in the state of Georgia at any moment.

According to legal analyst and Brookings Governance senior fellow Norm Eisen, the 2024 presidential hopeful offered Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis significant "proof" of his 2020 election interference during CNN's town hall Wednesday.

Host Kaitlan Collins asked Trump, "Given the fact that there are indictments expected to come in that case this summer — is that a call you would make again today?"

The MAGA candidate replied, "Yeah, I called questioning the election. I thought it was a rigged election. I thought it had a lot of problems. Listen to this: There are like seven lawyers on the call . . . we're having a normal call, nobody said, "Oh, gee, he shouldn't have said that."

Collins interrupted, "You asked him to find the votes," before Trump shouted, "I didn't ask him to find anything. I said you owe me votes because the election was rigged."

That brings us to two important points:

(1) Trump lied when he told Collins that he did not ask Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to find the votes. The UK Guardian is one of many news outlets to report what Trump actually said on the tape-recorded call:

Trump called Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, nearly two months after election day, on Saturday 2 January. Telling him “it’s pretty clear we won”, the then president said: “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have [to get]” to surpass Biden’s total.

Trump then claimed Raffensperger would be committing a "criminal offense" by refusing to act on his demands.

(2) That Trump described it as a "normal call," of course, does not mean prosecutors will agree with him. Also, it seems clear that determining the "election was rigged" is not a decision for Trump, a candidate in said election, to make.

Eisen spelled out the possible legal implications of Trump's comment in an interview with CNN's Jim Scuitto, Boddie reports:

During a segment of CNN's News Central, host Jim Scuitto asked [Eisen] about the potential repercussions of Trump's statement.

Eisen shared a clip from the [Trump-Collins] conversation via Twitter, writing, "The Fulton County DA already had a mountain of evidence that Trump likely interfered w the 2020 election At last night's @CNN town hall, Trump gave her still more evidence to bolster her likely prosecution: Proof of his criminal intent, I explained @NewsCentralCNN w @jimsciutto."

[Scuitto] echoed Trump, emphasizing, "You owe me votes," before adding, "Tell me how that impacts the investigation in Georgia."

Eisen replied, "It's the most important kind of proof for a prosecutor, Jim. Intent proof. Whatever he believed, once the election had been certified, he can't demand that the Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger just find 11,780 votes. It's vigilante justice. Think of it this way: If I believed the bank owed me $11,780, and I went in there and threatened the teller, 'Give me my $11,780' — even if I believe it belongs to me — you can't do that, and you can't do that in an election."

Sciutto reiterated, "You can't say 'You owe me that money;' you can't say, 'You owe me those votes.'"

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