Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Monday that it was unlikely his office would open an investigation into his weekend phone call with President Donald Trump, but suggested a criminal probe could still be launched by an Atlanta-area district attorney.
Because Trump personally spoke with the secretary on Saturday and recently had a conversation with the secretary of state office’s chief investigator, Raffensperger told ABC’s “Good Morning America” in an interview Monday morning that “there may be a conflict of interest” that would inhibit any potential investigation.
But Raffensperger went on to say: “I understand that the Fulton County District Attorney wants to look at it. Maybe that’s the appropriate venue for it to go.”
A spokesperson for the office of Fulton County, Ga., District Attorney Fani Willis did not immediately return an email seeking comment on Raffensperger’s remark.
Legal experts and lawmakers have expressed alarm at Trump’s Saturday phone call with Raffensperger, during which the president pressured the secretary to “find” enough votes to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state.
In particular, Trump asked that officials determine that ballots were shredded in Fulton County and that Dominion election machinery was removed or tampered with. He also suggested Raffensperger could be guilty of a “criminal offense” by knowing about alleged election interference and not reporting it.
In fact, it is the president who may have opened himself up to legal liability in the phone call, potentially violating federal and state statutes intended to guard against the solicitation of election fraud.
The Washington Post and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first obtained audio of the call Sunday, and it was subsequently confirmed by POLITICO. On Monday, Raffensperger declined to say whether he personally found Trump’s requests in their conversation to be lawful.
“I’m not a lawyer. All I know is that we’re going to follow the law, follow the process,” he said. “Truth matters. And we’ve been fighting these rumors for the last two months.”
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