February 10, 2021
It turns out the second impeachment trial might be just the start of Donald Trump’s post-presidency legal troubles. On Wednesday, prosecutors in Fulton County, Georgia, announced a criminal investigation into the phone call in which Trump attempted to pressure Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes for him to win the state. The state going for Joe Biden in November was key to Biden’s eventual electoral win.
According to The New York Times, the recently elected district attorney of Fulton County, Fani Willis, sent letters to several state officials asking them to preserve any and all documents related to the call for an ongoing criminal investigation. That includes Raffensperger, who fielded the call from Trump and took an immense amount of heat from members of the Republican Party as well as online abuse from Trump supporters for his refusal to overturn the legitimate election results.
The decision to pursue a criminal investigation into the phone call comes just days after Raffensperger’s office announced that it would start its own inquiry into the call. The internal investigation was said to be “fact-finding and administrative in nature” and standard procedure when there are complaints regarding the electoral process. The findings would typically be handed over to the state’s board of elections, which is currently controlled by the Republican Party. The board would then be tasked with deciding if the matter is worth referring to the state attorney general for prosecution. With the AG’s office running their own, concurrent investigation, it seems as though prosecutors won’t have to wait for the board of elections to make a decision.
Trumpworld, as expected, is as delusional as ever about the former president’s actions. When Raffensperger’s office announced its investigation, former Trump adviser Jason Miller told the Times, “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.” No word on whether Miller also blamed Raffensperger for owning a phone, which very clearly enabled Trump and is therefore also the secretary of state’s fault.
Georgia is the second state to launch a criminal investigation into the misdeeds of the former president; prosecutors in New York have an ongoing inquiry looking into potential cases of banking, tax, and insurance fraud committed by the Trump Organization. That investigation began in 2018, but has recently broadened its scope and intensified now that Trump is out of office and without the legal protections granted to the president.
While the second impeachment of Trump is unlikely to result in a conviction, the state-level investigations will present more of a challenge for the former president. If any of these investigations lead to criminal charges, it won’t be a friendly group of senators sitting in as the jury — it will be residents in cities that are dominated by Democrats. That means Trump might need to send someone a little more qualified than Rudy Giuliani to defend him.