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Prosecutors in Georgia are moving closer to opening a criminal investigation into President Donald Trump, according to The New York Times.
Fulton County’s new district attorney, Fani Willis, is seriously considering whether to launch an official inquiry into Trump’s attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 Election, the paper reported.
Willis has also deliberated over whether to hire a special assistant to oversee the inquiry, sources told the Times.
The calls for Trump to be investigated have come from watchdog groups and Democratic lawmakers.
Earlier this month, the sole Democrat on Georgia’s state election board, David Worley, called on Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to look into Trump’s controversial hour-long phone call, according to The Washington Post.
Worley referred to a Georgia state code that makes it illegal to solicit someone into committing election fraud, the paper reported. Violating § 21-2-604 is punishable by up to three years in jail.
In Trump’s call, obtained by the Post, the president urged Raffensperger to ‘find’ 11,780 votes to secure a win over President-elect Joe Biden. This request was rebuffed.
Since Worley’s request, Raffensperger has noted a potential conflict of interest in him investigating the conversation. He told ABC News that Fulton County would be a more “appropriate venue” to conduct a criminal investigation.
Worley has since warned that if Fulton County’s district attorney doesn’t announce an inquiry into the phone call by the date of the state election board’s next meeting, then he would make a motion to refer it to her office, according to The New York Times.
The next meeting is scheduled to take place on February 10, 2021.
If the motion does not result in an official referral, Worley told the paper that he would contact Willis himself and urge her to launch an investigation.
Some legal experts believe that Trump’s phone call might have broken both state and federal law, according to Slate.
It has been reported that Trump is considering pardoning himself before leaving office — but these efforts might not fully protect him.
Federal pardons do not apply to state prosecutions. Trump, therefore, risks being charged with offenses that go beyond his pardoning power.
Trump is already facing criminal investigations brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. Both of these cases also go beyond the reach of a presidential pardon.