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Trump at 'Substantial Risk' of Criminal Prosecution in Georgia Over Election Interference

Former President Donald Trump is at substantial risk of criminal prosecution in Fulton County, Georgia, according to a report by Norman Eisen, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and Jason Powell, the chief investigative counsel at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. The report assesses the facts and law surrounding a criminal investigation into Trump's efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. The report concludes that Trump is at substantial risk of prosecution for both election and non-election crimes in violation of Georgia state law.

Photograph: Carlos Barría/Reuters

Facts: Trump’s efforts to overturn Georgia’s election began when he claimed victory in the state before vote-counting concluded. Trump bombarded Georgia election officials with tweets alleging voter fraud and pushed those officials to diverge from codified election procedures. Meanwhile, his campaign and allies filed a series of lawsuits challenging his loss. Trump’s efforts escalated as two recounts affirmed Biden’s narrow victory. In December 2020, Trump reportedly began to place calls directly to Georgia officials, including Governor Brian Kemp and Attorney General Chris Carr, to urge them to support efforts aimed at decertifying his loss. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, presented false allegations of fraud and misrepresented the law in an attempt to convince state lawmakers to take extraordinary action to reverse Biden’s win. Trump called Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on January 2 and both threatened and pleaded with him to “find” 11,780 votes, thereby tilting the state’s presidential election in his favor.

Law: Trump appears to be at substantial risk of prosecution for both election and non-election crimes in violation of Georgia state law. Potential election crimes that may be on the table for Georgia prosecutors include solicitation to commit election fraud, intentional interference with the performance of election duties, interference with primaries and elections, and conspiracy to commit election fraud. Criminal

liability under Georgia state law may attach not only to Trump but to others, such as Rudy Giuliani, the 16 false electors, all of whom received target letters from District Attorney Willis indicating they may face criminal charges. In addition, evidence suggests that Trump and his cohort, including the false electors, may have committed other crimes outside of the election title, such as making false statements, improperly influencing government officials, forgery in the first degree, and criminal solicitation.

Decision: If the Grand Jury issues indictments, Trump's lawyers will likely argue a variety of defenses that either downplay his conduct or seek to undermine the legal theories underlying the charges. However, Eisen and Powell assert that these defenses will likely prove ineffective, and they suggest that the strength of the evidence and the extensive legal precedent in support of the charges make conviction a real possibility.

Read the full analysis of the Fulton Grand Jury investigation by Norman Eisen and States United for Democracy.


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