The consequences continue to pour in from Donald Trump’s phone call to Georgia Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
The desperate president was caught on an audio recording of the call asking Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes” in the official count — already verified multiple times by the states’ election officials — one more than Joe Biden received.
After The Washington Post published the full recording of the call yesterday, social media immediately erupted in outrage with many people calling for a second impeachment of the president for his apparent attempts to commit election fraud, despite the fact that Trump has only 16 days left in office before Joe Biden will take his place in the White House.
Representatives Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Kathleen Rice (D-NY), both former prosecutors, don’t think that impeachment is the right solution at this late date.
Instead, they announced today that they believe that Trump “committed multiple crimes during the phone call” with his threats against the Georgia Secretary of State and have made a criminal referral to the FBI.
“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 two legislators wrote in a letter to Wray earlier today. “We ask you to open an immediate criminal investigation into the president.”
“The evidence of election fraud by Mr. Trump is now in broad daylight,” the letter continues.
“Given the more than ample factual predicate, we are making a criminal referral to you to open an investigation into Mr. Trump,” the lawmakers wrote.
As former prosecutors, @RepKathleenRice and I believe @realDonaldTrump committed multiple crimes during the phone call in which he threatened GA SoS Raffensperger to “find 11,780” votes or to “recalculate.”
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) January 4, 2021
In making their referral, the two Democratic representatives join Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), who called Trump’s actions “potentially criminal” in a tweet yesterday, and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) who called the defeated president “unhinged and dangerous” while also saying that the call deserved a “criminal investigation” in his own Twitter post.
Trump’s contempt for democracy is laid bare. Once again. On tape.
Pressuring an election official to “find” the votes so he can win is potentially criminal,
And another flagrant abuse of power by a corrupt man who would be a despot, if we allowed him.
We will not. https://t.co/YH7VtLJn3x
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) January 3, 2021
The President is unhinged and dangerous. Those who encourage and support his conduct, including my Senate colleagues, are putting the orderly and peaceful transition of power in our nation at risk.
— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) January 3, 2021
With President-elect Joe Biden yet to announce his nominee for Attorney General, it is uncertain whether the Justice Department or the FBI will pursue a federal criminal probe of the call, something unlikely to commence while Trump is still in office.
Those legislators urging a criminal inquiry, however, may be satisfied with the statement issued today by the newly elected District Attorney for Fulton County Georgia, Fani Willis, after the sole Democratic member of the Georgia Board of Elections requested an investigation into Trump’s phone call.
Hopefully, Willis will follow through on the state level where no illegitimate self-pardon that Trump may grant himself will make any difference in his culpability.
With Congress set to vote on accepting the results as tabulated by the electoral college and indicating that Joe Biden will be our next president, and a rebellious — some would say seditious — faction of Republican legislators set to vote against accepting the tally despite no chance of their symbolic protest affecting the final outcome, this week will prove to be one of the most unprecedented in our nation’s history.
If the saying that “may you live in interesting times” is indeed considered to be more of a curse than an expression of hope for a less boring future, America should consider itself fully cursed during the denouement of the Trump presidency.
Original reporting by Allan Smith and Alex Moe at NBC News.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.