It’s been mostly forgotten in all of the hullabaloo over the January 6th Capitol riot, but readers with sharp memories will recall that, in the four days leading up to that day, Democrats and leftists were laser-focused on another Trump transgression. Before the Capitol events turned the news cycle upside down, all the left could talk about was Trump’s January 2nd phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Bran Raffensperger. In the call – so the story goes – the president improperly “pressured” Raffensperger to overturn the state’s election results.
Guaranteed: If the events at the Capitol had never taken place, Democrats would have impeached Trump over this call. And it would have been just as partisan and fraudulent.
But that’s not stopping the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office from opening an investigation into Trump’s call. According to Reuters, a spokesman for the office said that the inquiry will be “fact-finding and administrative.”
“Any further legal efforts,” said the spokesman, “will be left to the attorney general.”
In remarks to The New York Times, David Worley (who just happens to be the only Democrat on the Georgia elections board) said that the investigation could lead to criminal charges.
“Any investigation of a statutory violation is a potential criminal investigation depending on the statute involved,” he told the paper. “The complaint that was received involved a criminal violation.”
In a statement, Trump senior adviser Jason Miller said, “There was nothing improper or untoward about a scheduled call between President Trump, Secretary Raffensperger and lawyers on both sides. If Mr. Raffensperger didn’t want to receive calls about the election, he shouldn’t have run for secretary of state.”
According to the Times, Trump could face legal action from a number of angles:
Former prosecutors said Mr. Trump’s calls might run afoul of at least three state laws. One is criminal solicitation to commit election fraud, which can be either a felony or a misdemeanor; as a felony, it is punishable by at least a year in prison. There is also a related conspiracy charge, which can be prosecuted either as a misdemeanor or a felony. A third law, a misdemeanor offense, bars “intentional interference” with another person’s “performance of election duties.”
The problem here is one of intent. One can listen to the phone call between Trump and Raffensperger and conclude that the former president was trying to get Georgia to phony up the election result in his favor. But it is also entirely possible to read it as Trump trying to get Georgia to do the right thing and find the votes that are rightfully his. This reading only requires you to believe that Trump really believed that the election was stolen from him.
As far as we can see, that’s got reasonable doubt written all over it.