That’s certainly how U.S. Representative
“We believe Donald Trump engaged in solicitation of, or conspiracy to commit, a number of election crimes,” Lieu said in a letter joined by fellow Democratic Representative
While the request for a Trump appointee to investigate his boss during his last few weeks in office may be a long shot, the fiery reaction to the Saturday call is likely to add to the pressure
“I think in order to deter potentially authoritarian-oriented presidents and presidential candidates it would be important to prosecute activity like this because it really does undermine the very basic aspect of a democracy -- that we don’t stuff the ballot box,” said Richard Hasen, a law professor at the University of California Irvine.
The White House press office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Such a prosecution would cut against the stated desire of Biden and other Democrats to move on from Trump’s divisive term in office, and would be difficult to prove without clear evidence that the president knew he lost the election and wanted Georgia officials to overturn it anyway. Once Trump leaves office on Jan. 20, he will lose the immunity from federal criminal indictment that sitting presidents are granted under Justice Department policy, and an election-fraud probe will join an
Norm Eisen, a lawyer for the nonprofit Voter Protection Program, said Trump’s words gave “more than enough” justification to open an investigation, particularly the president’s apparent threat to open a criminal probe into Raffensperger if he didn’t comply.
“The liability here is quite serious,” Eisen said in a call with reporters on Monday. “Federal law prohibits attempts to engage in election fraud. It provides criminal penalties for such attempts.”
Hasen pointed out that knowingly committing voter fraud is also a state crime in Georgia. Raffensperger said on Monday it was possible that state prosecutors could launch an investigation.
Trump’s call with Raffensperger came after weeks of failed efforts by Republicans to convince judges across the country that Democrats stole the election through a variety of illegal means. Dozens of suits by Trump and his supporters have been tossed by courts after they failed to produce evidence of a widespread scheme.
But a number of Congressional Republicans have cited those baseless claims in saying they will oppose certifying Biden’s victory on Wednesday, a previously routine step ahead of inauguration. Though their effort is doomed to fail, many have expressed fears that Trump’s GOP is moving away from democratic norms, concerns intensified by the call.
“It’s not okay or normal for anyone” including Trump “to call up an election official and ask them to change the result, and that’s exactly what happened,” Arizona Secretary of State
Hasen said a criminal case over the call could be complicated by difficulties proving that Trump “knowingly” committed election fraud, since the president may have evidence that he believes his own conspiracy claims.
Trump may be “so deluded into believing the nonsense he’s spouting, it would be impossible to prove he was knowingly making false statements about how much fraud there was in the Georgia election,” Hasen said.
The president raised many of the wilder voter-fraud conspiracy claims on his call with Raffensperger, suggesting that thousands of dead people had voted, ballots had been shredded or counted multiple times and that voting machines had been tampered with. Raffensperger who denied these claims as false.
Hasen said another possibility would be for Trump to be impeached again over the call. Several Democratic lawmakers including U.S. Representative
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