Rice calls on FBI director to open criminal investigation of Trump

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U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) called on the director of the FBI to conduct a formal investigation against President Trump after his hour-long phone conversation with Georgia election officials. (Photo courtesy of the congresswoman's office)

U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) asked FBI Director Christopher Wray to open a criminal investigation of President Donald Trump after an hourlong phone call where the president asked Georgia’s secretary of state to “find 11,780 votes” that would overturn his election defeat in the state.

Rice, along with fellow Democratic U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu of California, sent a letter to Wray on Monday asking for a formal investigation of Trump for his remarks to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in regard to the state’s election, which Trump lost by 11,779 votes to President-elect Joe Biden.

“As Members of Congress and former prosecutors, we believe Donald Trump engaged in solicitation of, or conspiracy to commit, a number of election crimes,” the letter said.

During the hourlong call around 3 p.m. Saturday, a recording of which was obtained by The Washington Post, Trump insisted to Raffensperger and his office’s general counsel, Ryan Germany, that he “won Georgia by a lot,” despite the verified election results that showed Biden as the victor. 

Throughout the call, Trump made claims about election fraud including an alleged lack of security and poll watching, allegations that thousands of ballots were shredded by state election officials, and allegations that votes were cast by deceased residents. State officials said the allegations are not supported by evidence.

“We won very substantially in Georgia,” Trump said on the call. “You even see it by rally size, frankly. We’d be getting 25-30,000 people a rally, and the competition would get less than 100 people. And it never made sense.”

The president told Raffensperger at one point, “I just want to find 11,780 votes.”

In response, Raffensperger said: “We have to stand by our numbers. We believe our numbers are right.” He also said, “Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is the data you have is wrong.”

Rice and Lieu’s letter claims that Trump committed federal and state crimes in his conversation with Georgia officials. The letter accuses Trump of violating federal laws that make it a crime when a person in any election for federal office “knowingly and willfully deprives, defrauds, or attempts to deprive or defraud the residents of a State of a fair and impartially conducted election process, by … the procurement, casting, or tabulation of ballots that are known by the person to be materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent under the laws of the State in which the election is held.”

Under Georgia’s state code, “a person commits the offense of criminal solicitation to commit election fraud in the first degree when, with intent that another person engage in conduct constituting a felony under this article, he or she solicits, requests, commands, importunes, or otherwise attempts to cause the other person to engage in such conduct,” the letter said.

“The evidence of election fraud by Mr. Trump is now in broad daylight,” the letter said. “Given the more than ample factual predicate, we are making a criminal referral to you to open an investigation into Mr. Trump.”

Rice, on Sunday, expressed displeasure with Trump’s claims of rigged elections and unfair assertions of ballot shredding via Twitter.

“While thousands die on a daily basis from a pandemic Trump has ignored, he’s using his final days to denigrate our democracy,” Rice tweeted. “He is actively trying to turn America into a dictatorship. And every Republican supporting him in this effort is complicit.”

 

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