Fulton County’s District Attorney Fani Willis is taking on former President Trump, in launching an investigation into allegations that the former President tried to influence the administration of Georgia’s Presidential Election.
Willis sent letters to several Georgia's Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State and Attorney General as a matter of "high importance" Wednesday morning, announcing she is investigating “potential solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local governmental bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election's administration."
Willis asks the four elected officials to preserve all records related to Georgia's election administration, especially any possible records related to anyone attempting to influence the results.
While not explicitly stated in the letter, the investigation will largely be centered around this January 2nd, recorded call from former President to Secretary of State Raffensperger.
"What are we going to do here, folks? I only need 11,000 votes. Fellas, I need 11,000 votes. Give me a break,” Trump said on the call to the Secretary of State and his staff.
George Washington University Law Professor John Banzhaf filed the original criminal complaints into Trump’s phone calls that led to the launch of this investigation.
“I think one of the unique roles that law professors can play is to file complaints when complaints are warranted because they are often necessary to get prosecutors or other government officials to go ahead and do what they need to do,” Banzhaf told CBS46’s Hayley Mason, Wednesday. “Many are reluctant to do to it on their own they don’t want to be seen as activist or seen as political,” He added.
Professor Banzhaf says his complaint has triggered two investigations so far, but he is waiting on one key official to do the same: Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr.
“Because of the importance of this investigation and because it should be done by somebody with all the investigatory tools, including a grand jury, I think the third person we are waiting for is your state attorney General Mr. Carr to launch his own investigation ,” Banzhaf said.
Constitutional Attorney Page Pate says me he's never seen a local DA prosecute a former President.
“I think the call that Trump made, or the several calls that Trump made, to Georgia elections officials are very problematic, clearly inappropriate,” Pate told Mason. “The question about whether or not there’s criminal conduct there I think will depend on how much the prosecutor can show Trump’s specific intent to change the results in Georgia,” he added.
The most likely charge, Pate says, could be either a felony or a misdemeanor, based on the way the law is written.
“The charges would be very serious, but I think the DA is perhaps looking at this too broadly,” Pate opined. “I don’t think there is much evidence to support a racketeering charge, or any sort of violent conduct that can be tied directly to Trump here in Georgia. What I think is the clearest potential violation would be the solicitation of election fraud.”
He says this will not likely lead to any jail time or major charges beyond a misdemeanor.
“I do think there Is enough there to support a misdemeanor criminal charge, but I find it really hard to believe that a district attorney would want to pursue a former President over what may be at best a misdemeanor,” Pate added indicating the future of the possible prosecution effort is unclear at this early stage.
Raffensperger’s office confirms he received the letter from DA Willis, but he will not comment on an ongoing investigation.