UNITED STATES: Elected Democrats call for an investigation into Donald Trump, after the controversial phone call from US president, but justice unlikely
- This weekend, Donald Trump telephoned the Georgia Secretary of State, asking him to “find” nearly 12,000 votes in his favor.
- Election fraud is an offense punishable by up to five years in prison.
- But proving Donald Trump’s intention would be complex, and Joe Biden’s Justice Department will no doubt be looking forward and not in the rearview mirror.
“I just want to find 11,780 votes. In a more than hour-long phone call published by US media on Sunday , Donald Trump appeared to pressure Georgia’s secretary of state, suggesting that he “recalculate” the results of the November 3 presidential election . But if elected Democrats have asked the FBI to open an investigation, it is unlikely that the American president will be worried by justice, two weeks before the inauguration of Joe Biden .
A controversial phone call
For more than two months, Georgia’s Secretary of State, a Republican, has stood up to Donald Trump. After two recounts and several audits, Brad Raffensperger certified the results and the victory of Joe Biden, ensuring that there had been no “massive fraud” as the American president maintains.
On Saturday, Donald Trump picked up his phone. For more than an hour, he lists conspiracy theories repeatedly rejected by justice and poll officials. Patiently, Raffensperger dismantles them one by one. No, there were no ballots passed through the crusher (only unfinished supernumerary ballots destroyed, as required by law). No, ballots were not scanned “three times”. No, the Dominion Company did not “replace” components of its voting machines after the election. And the number of deceased people who voted? Not 5,000 as Donald Trump argues, but… “two”.
Le fact checking téléphonique qui fait mal
– Trump: “L’autre truc, les morts. Des électeurs décédés ont voté. Et je crois que le chiffre est près de 5.000 personnes”.
– Le Sec d’Etat de Géorgie: “Le véritable chiffre est 2. Deux personnes décédées ont voté” pic.twitter.com/4gpfiP64KN
— Philippe Berry (@ptiberry) January 4, 2021
But the American president does not budge. He assures us that he “largely won” the election in Georgia by more than 300,000 votes. And then comes the potentially problematic passage: “There’s nothing wrong with saying, you know, that you recalculated […] I just want to find 11,780 votes. »Then Donald Trump insists, there was a« massive fraud »and to certify the results despite everything is« criminal ». “It’s a criminal offence. You can’t let this happen. It’s a big risk for you and Ryan, your lawyer. ”
Trump to Raffensperger (via @washingtonpost):
“You know what they did and you’re not reporting it. That’s a criminal- that’s a criminal offense… that’s a big risk.”
“I’m notifying you that you’re letting it happen.”
“I just want to find 11,780 votes.” pic.twitter.com/a3j4k0LJEa
— Andrew Solender (@AndrewSolender) January 3, 2021
Is it illegal?
Many observers, such as Yale history professor Timothy Snyder, believe that Donald Trump “tried to organize a coup”. On Monday, the elected Democrat Ted Lieu, a former prosecutor, seized the FBI, requesting the opening of an investigation. Former Barack Obama Justice Department Inspector General Michael Bromwhich Believes US President May Have Violated Federal Criminal Code Statute On “Obtaining Or Counting Ballots Known To Be False, Fictitious Or Fraudulent”, which is punishable by five years in prison. It is also prohibited by the Georgia State courts to “solicit or encourage a person to commit electoral fraud”.
Can Donald Trump be worried?
In American law, a central element is an intention. Former Donald Trump adviser Jason Miller assures us that the call simply shows that “Trump asked for an accurate ballot count, and he says he got over 11,000 more than Joe Biden.” Proving “corrupt intent” is complex. Even though the passage “This is a big risk for you” sounds like a threat, it was a public appeal, with many people online. Clearly, Donald Trump can argue – as he did in his controversial appeal to Ukrainian President Zelensky – that he is too smart to threaten an official in front of witnesses.
Two weeks before Joe Biden takes office, prosecution against Donald Trump seems unlikely. It is indeed the justice department of the Biden administration that will have to decide. As former Federal Election Commission chairman Trevor Potter explained to the New York Times , this is more a political than a judicial decision. And Joe Biden will undoubtedly be more inclined to project himself forward than to embark on a battle with his predecessor.