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Prosecutors in Georgia open criminal investigation into Trump’s attempt to influence election results

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Monday, March 15th 2021, 8:45 PM EDT

By Jason Morris and Devan Cole, CNN

A prosecutor in Fulton County, Georgia, has opened a criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump for his “attempts to influence the administration of the 2020 Georgia general election.”

In a letter sent Wednesday to numerous Georgia state election officials, including Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis requested that they preserve documents related to Trump’s phone call last month in which he pushed Raffensperger to “find” votes to reverse his election loss.

The investigation comes as Raffensperger’s office has launched its own probe into Trump’s attempts to overturn the election, an inquiry that includes a review of both that call and another phone call the then-President made to a Georgia election official.

Willis said her “investigation includes, but is not limited to, potential violations of Georgia election law prohibiting the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local government bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office, and any involvement in violence of threats related to the election’s administration.”

“This matter is of high priority, and I am confident that as fellow law enforcement officers sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States and Georgia, our acquisition of information and evidence of potential crimes via interviews, documents, videos and electronic records will be cooperative,” the letter reads.

Trump himself is not named in the letter, but Willis’ office confirmed to CNN that the probe concerns his phone call with Raffensperger. The letter also says Fulton County authorities currently “have no reason to believe that any Georgia official is a target” in the probe.

The investigation was earlier reported by The New York Times.

The criminal probe adds to a growing list of significant legal pressures facing Trump, including a Senate impeachment trial in which House Democrats are pushing to convict him for inciting the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol, and the investigation launched by Raffensperger’s office into Trump’s election conduct.

In that probe, Raffensperger, the state’s top election official, is also investigating Trump’s one-hour phone call, in which Trump lambasted his fellow Republican for refusing to falsely say that he won the election in Georgia and repeatedly touted baseless claims of election fraud.

Another call occurred on December 23 between Trump and a Georgia election investigator in the secretary of state’s office who was leading an investigation into allegations of ballot fraud in Cobb County. In that call, Trump asked the investigator to search for dishonesty in the 2020 presidential election, telling the individual that the investigation was of national importance, according to a source with direct knowledge of the call.

There were 18 attempted calls from the White House to the Georgia secretary of state’s office between the election and the January 2 phone call between Trump and Raffensperger, a Georgia state official has confirmed to CNN.

There have been no credible allegations of any issues with voting that would have impacted the election, as affirmed by dozens of judges, governors, election officials, the Electoral College, the Justice Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the US Supreme Court.

Michael J. Moore, the former US attorney for the Middle District of Georgia between 2010 and 2015 under President Barack Obama, told CNN the multiple calls “sort of start to tell the story that this was not an official trying to talk to another official about problems that he or she might see in an election.”

“It’s more about how do I get to the place that that I can win the race,” he said, adding that the now-infamous call “sounds like any other call that you might have with an organized crime ring or a drug conspiracy ring or something.

“And that is that you’ve got almost code talking about — this is what I need you to do, if you could just help me out here,” Moore told CNN.

This story has been updated with additional reporting, background information and reaction.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story, published February 10, presented paraphrasing of the President’s comments to the Georgia elections investigator as direct quotes. The story has been updated following the discovery of an audio recording of the call. Read more here.

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