House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff says he is concerned that the Justice Department has done nothing to investigate whether former President Donald Trump committed a crime by calling the top elections official in Georgia and asking him to “find” votes in his favor.
The Democrat joined CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday and said that the episode, which was the president’s most-direct effort to game the 2020 election results falsely in his favor, should not go unresolved.
“Dana, I think if you or I were on that call, we’d be under investigation if not indictment by now,” he said.
The conversation between Mr Trump and Brad Raffensperger, a Republican official in Georgia whose job includes overseeing elections in the state, drew nationwide attention and condemnation after it occurred in January less than a week before his supporters would attack the US Capitol and try to stop his defeat from being certified.
Audio of the 2 January call was obtained by The Washington Post hours after it occurred following the president’s decision to taunt the official on Twitter and accuse Mr Raffensperger of being "unwilling or unable to answer questions" about his baseless election fraud conspiracies.
During the conversation, Mr Trump asked the Georgia Republican to “reevaluate” his state’s vote count, and cited numerous false conspiracies about fraud that had supposedly occurred.
"I just want to find 11,780 votes,” he told Mr Raffensperger on the call.
Those who say Mr Trump should be prosecuted for his blatant efforts to convince local election officials to declare fraud where there was none proven to have occurred and in this case asking the Georgia secretary of state to “find” thousands of ballots violates federal election law, which states that it is a crime to “knowingly and willfully depriv[e], defrau[d] or attemp[t] to deprive or defraud the residents of a state of a fair and impartially conducted election process”.
A number of House Democrats wrote previously to the director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, asking him to investigate the matter.
“As members of Congress and former prosecutors, we believe Donald Trump engaged in solicitation of, or conspiracy to commit, a number of election crimes,” Reps Ted Lieu and Kathleen Rice wrote in a January appeal to the FBI. “We ask you to open an immediate criminal investigation into the president.”
Whether the Justice Department decides to take up the matter could end up not being the final factor in determining whether Mr Trump will face punishment for his demand; Mr Raffensperger’s office announced a fact-finding investigation into the extent of Mr Trump’s efforts to influence Georgia officials, and the state’s prosecutors in Fulton County are reportedly pursuing a criminal investigation as well.
"There is an active ongoing investigation," Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said in September, adding: “Should the facts and the law match up to a charge, the community should feel confident this office should bring charges."
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