Former Mueller prosecutor says the call of Trump asking a Georgia official to change the election results shows 'criminal intent'
- The Washington Post on Sunday published a leaked call in which President Donald Trump asked Georgia's top election official to "find" 11,780 votes to overturn Trump's loss in the state.
- In the call, Trump also warned that the official might face legal consequences for not investigating election fraud, for which the president provided no convincing evidence.
- Andrew Weissmann, a former prosecutor on Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, tweeted that the call contained evidence of criminal intent.
- Some legal experts believe that Trump's actions may have violated state and federal laws.
- But the case is far from clear. Attorneys told The New York Times that Trump was unlikely to face legal action because of the difficulty of proving intent.
Andrew Weissmann, a former prosecutor on the special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, said there was evidence of "criminal intent" in the leaked phone call between President Donald Trump and Georgia's top election official.
In the Saturday call, which was leaked by The Washington Post on Sunday, Trump is heard telling Georgia's secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, to "find" enough votes to overturn President-elect Joe Biden's victory in the state. Biden beat Trump in Georgia by nearly 12,000 votes.
"So many parts of the tape evidence Trump's criminal intent," Weissmann said in a tweet Sunday night.
Weissmann went on to list actions that he characterized the following way:
- "Lies, and no facts, to support demands."
- "Seeking to find the precise number of votes to win (vs impartial scrub of votes)."
- "Reminding Secy he's a Republican (how is that relevant?)"
- "Reminding him of criminal consequences."
"Then add in the proof of his motive and his pattern of similar activity," Weissmann added.
The White House did not immediately return a request for comment from Insider on the call.
—Andrew Weissmann (@AWeissmann_) January 4, 2021
Legal experts torn over whether Trump broke laws
Weissmann is one of several legal experts and prosecutors who have said the explosive leaked call between Trump and Raffensperger violated election laws.
In the call, Trump baselessly claimed several times that he had won the election in Georgia by several hundred thousand votes, and he ultimately asked Raffensperger to "find" an extra 11,780 votes cast for him - a number that would take Trump exactly one vote over Biden's winning tally in the state. The president warned Raffensperger of possible criminal liability for not investigating voter fraud.
The Post reported that the only Democrat on Georgia's elections board had called for an investigation into whether the president committed any civil or criminal violations on the call.
Leigh Ann Webster, an Atlanta criminal-defense lawyer, told The New York Times that the call "clearly violates Georgia statutes" against election fraud.
Federal laws also can be used to punish a person who "knowingly and willfully deprives, defrauds, or attempts to deprive or defraud the residents of a State of a fair and impartially conducted election process."
In comments to Politico, attorneys echoed Weissmann's claim that Trump's request for a specific number of votes, and what could be seen as veiled legal threats, meant the call violated state and federal election laws.
Other legal experts, however, also told The Times that because Trump did not explicitly declare an intention to follow up on any legal threats, and because it would be difficult to prove that he actually believed he had lost in Georgia and was trying to illegally subvert the result, it was unlikely that the president would face prosecution.
Weissmann stepped down from Mueller's investigation, which included an inquiry into contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign, in March 2019, shortly after the report found no evidence that Trump or his campaign had conspired with Russia to subvert the 2016 election, and declined to reach a judgment on whether Trump had obstructed justice.
In his book,"Where Law Ends," Weissmann was critical of Mueller for not bringing obstruction charges against Trump.
Weissmann was the architect of the federal case that saw the former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort imprisoned on financial-crimes charges.
Trump pardoned Manafort and other people charged as part of the Mueller investigation in December.
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