Georgia secretary of state opens investigation of former President Donald Trump

In Dalton, Georgia, on January 4 of this year, then-President Donald Trump was very public in expressing his belief that he won Georgia during the 2020 Presidential election.

"There was no way we lost Georgia, no way. That was a rigged election," Trump told the audience.

But it is what he said privately, in a phone call made two days earlier to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffesnperger, that has now thrust the former president into the middle of a post-election criminal investigation.

"All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes which is one more than we have. Because we won the state," Trump told the secretary of state on the phone.

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During the call, obtained by the FOX 5 I-Team, Trump argued ballots were shredded, signatures forged, voting machines tampered with and illegal votes cast. Trump urged the Georgia Secretary of state to overturn the election in his favor.

"They are going around playing you and laughing at you behind your back Brad. They are laughing at you," Trump said.

At the time, Mr. Raffensperger told FOX 5 the then-president just had his facts wrong.

"Perhaps, they are just fearful of actually telling the truth, the cold hard facts is, that he just didn't prevail in Georgia," Raffensperger said. 

Now, a month later Secretary of State Brad Raffesnperger has opened a criminal investigation into that very same phone call after George Washington law professor John Banzhaf filed this formal complaint.

"When I first read that transcript, I thought, 'Oh my God,'" said George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf.

Professor Banzhaf said he felt there were several possible criminal charges as a result of that phone call, from conspiracy to commit election fraud to intentional interference of the performance of election duties.

"It sounded like a mafia boss talking to somebody else," said Banzhaf.

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Banhaf said public officials are often reluctant to open sensitive political investigations so he filed his complaint to jump-start what he calls a trigger for a criminal investigation.

"The worst part of the call was the fact that the president suggested there might be criminal wrongdoing by the secretary of state if he didn't do what the president asked. Because after all the president is the commander in chief but he is also the prosecutor in chief," said Banzhaf.

The case sheet obtained by the FOX 5 I-Team shows the secretary of state’s investigation is looking into allegations of "solicitation/conspiracy."

A secretary of state spokesperson wrote FOX 5 to say: "The investigations are fact-finding and administrative in nature. Any further legal efforts will be left to the Attorney General."

The investigators will turn over their findings to the State Election Board which will vote on whether to refer it to Georgia’s attorney General or Fulton County District attorney for possible prosecution of the former President of the United States.

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