Legal experts: Trump's newly revealed call to Georgia official could lead to obstruction charges

Legal experts: Trump's newly revealed call to Georgia official could lead to obstruction charges
Amanda Marcotte
Trump is trying to manipulate his way out of consequences — it can't be allowed to work

Last weekend, President Donald Trump sparked a media firestorm with his desperate call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) demanding that he "find" an additional 11,780 votes to overturn the election. With all of the chaos that has ensued this week, there are many discussions underway about the different criminal charges Trump could face for his behavior.

According to The Washington Post, legal experts who have observed Trump's hour-long conversation with Raffensperger suggests the president likely committed obstruction with his demands.

Robert James, a former DeKalb County prosecutor, explained how Trump's request for Raffensperger to "find" votes could be proven as a form of obstruction. According to the publication, James explained: "Without the audio of the call, it would be more difficult to prove wrongdoing, he said. The later call with Raffensperger is more damning, he said, because of the power of the audio that was made public."

"He says, 'Go find me some votes.' That can clearly be interpreted as asking someone to break the law," James said.

Nick Akerman, a former New York federal prosecutor, also argued that Trump's actions were a blatant form of obstruction. "Oh my god, of course, that's obstruction—any way you cut it," Akerman said.

He also said he "would be 'shocked' if Trump didn't commit a crime of obstruction under the Georgia statutes" and "the fact that the president took the time to identify the investigator, obtain a phone number and then call 'shows that he's trying to influence the outcome of what's going on.'"

The latest observations come after a weeks-long battle between Trump, his campaign attorneys, and Georgia election officials. Although Georgia's Electoral College votes were affirmed on Dec. 14, Trump continued to pressure officials to invalidate the state's election results as he lambasted Raffensperger and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) for not coming to his aid as he had hoped.

At the time, Georgia's Director of Elections, Chris Harvey, explained the state's election procedures amid Trump's calls for a statewide signature audit.

"Conducting this audit does not in any way suggest that Cobb County was not properly following election procedures or properly conducting signature matching," Harvey said at the time. "We chose Cobb County for this audit because they are well known to have one of the best election offices in the state, and starting in Cobb will help us as we embark on a statewide signature audit."

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