Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger speaks during a news conference on election results in Atlanta, Georgia, December 2, 2020.
Elijah Nouvelage | Reuters
The top prosecutor in Fulton County, Georgia, has opened a criminal investigation of a phone call to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger by then-President Donald Trump, who last month urged the official to “find” him enough votes to overturn his election loss to Joe Biden.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis sent a letter to Raffensperger and other state government officials asking that they preserve documents related to Trump’s highly unusual call, a state official with knowledge of the letter told NBC News.
Raffensperger’s office confirmed to CNBC that it received the letter Wednesday, but declined to comment further. The letter comes as the Senate is conducting an impeachment trial for Trump that could end with the ex-president being banned from ever running for the White House again.
The letter says the request is part of a criminal probe that “includes, but is not limited to, potential violations of Georgia law prohibiting the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local government bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election’s administration.”
The letter was sent two days after Raffensperger’s office opened its own investigation of Trump’s Jan. 2 phone call to the secretary of state.
In this Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016, file photo, Fulton County Deputy District Attorney Fani Willis makes her closing arguments during a trial in Atlanta.
John Bazemore | AP
In that call, Trump told Raffensperger, “All I want to do is this: I just want to find 11,780 votes.”
That was the number of votes Trump needed to overtake Biden’s lead in Georgia, one of several he needed to reverse Trump’s Electoral College loss.
At the time, Trump and his allies were promoting a series of baseless claims that he had lost the election due to widespread ballot fraud in states including Georgia.
The call to Raffensperger occurred four days before Trump urged supporters at a rally near the White House to help him fight to overturn the election results by getting Congress or Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to confirm Biden’s win.
After that rally, thousands of Trump supporters rioted outside and then inside the U.S. Capitol, where Congress was meeting in a joint session to confirm the results.
Five people died in connection with the riot, including a Capitol police officer.
Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives for inciting the riot.
His trial in the Senate began Tuesday with a debate over whether a former president could be tried after leaving office.
Evidence in the case is being presented today.
– Additional reporting by Hannah Miao