Election law expert breaks down the legal case for impeaching Trump over call to Georgia Secretary of State

Election law expert breaks down the legal case for impeaching Trump over call to Georgia Secretary of State
President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump disembark Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020, concluding their trip to Palm Beach, Fla. (Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)
Trump goes out with a whimper

President Donald Trump's latest desperate plea to overturn the presidential election has led one American scholar to lay out the legal case against the president over his call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

In an article for Slate, Richard Hasen, an American legal scholar and election law expert, explained how Trump likely violated federal and state laws with his "impeachable offense" during the hour-long leaked call with Raffensperger.

During the call on Saturday, Jan. 2, Trump falsely insisted "he had actually won the state by hundreds of thousands of votes and suggested Raffensperger could face criminal liability for not going after this phantom fraud."

Although Georgia certified its vote weeks ago, Hasen highlighted Trump's most incriminating remarks during the call:

It is more illegal for you than it is for [election officials] because, you know, what they did and you're not reporting it. That's a criminal, that's a criminal offense. And you can't let that happen. That's a big risk to you and to Ryan [Germany], your lawyer. And that's a big risk. But they are shredding ballots, in my opinion, based on what I've heard. And they are removing machinery, and they're moving it as fast as they can, both of which are criminal finds. And you can't let it happen, and you are letting it happen. You know, I mean, I'm notifying you that you're letting it happen. So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have because we won the state.Hasan alwso argues Trump's "request" is "easily the kind of corrupt conduct that could serve as a 'high crime and misdemeanor' subjecting him to removal from office, though with his departure imminent it seems unlikely that Congress would take up the case.

The University of California (Irvine) professor went on to note the danger that Trump's remarks pose: Trump's closing remark at the end of that portion of the conversation was indeed a blatant request for manufactured votes.

In the op-ed, Hasen outlined how Trump violated federal and state laws with his actions as the president "knowingly and willfully … 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."

He also noted one Georgia statute that states: a "person commits the offense of criminal solicitation to commit election fraud in the first degree when, with intent that another person engages 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."

According to Hasen, Trump's "request" is "easily the kind of corrupt conduct that could serve as a 'high crime and misdemeanor' subjecting him to removal from office, though with his departure imminent it seems unlikely that Congress would take up the case." They're also not altogether different from his unhinged antics amid his impeachment trial. In the editorial, Hasan offered a comparison of the two situations, noting that Republican senators played an intricate role in acquitting the president.

During the Ukraine impeachment saga, of course, nearly every Republican senator voted to acquit the president on the implausible basis that Trump was merely asking Ukraine to legitimately investigate Joe Biden for possible criminal conduct rather than seeking to corruptly advance his own electoral interests. In all of these cases, Trump's conspiratorial rantings display either profound ignorance, deep cynicism, or both.

Given Trump's reckless track record, Hasen hopes that Georgia prosecutors have a hand in bringing Trump's reign to an end.

"I would hope at least Georgia prosecutors will consider going after Trump, or that the House of Representatives might impeach him again with the goal of disqualifying him from running in 2024," Hasen wrote.

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