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Massive New Report Determines Donald Trump at ‘Substantial Risk’ of Criminal Culpability Over Election Interference in Georgia

Former President Donald Trump’s multiple attempts to interfere with the 2020 election in Fulton, County Georgia have left him at “substantial risk of state charges predicated on multiple crimes,” a panel of legal experts determined in an exhaustive report on the matter that was published on Friday.

Photo by James Devaney/GC Images

Norman Eisen, President Barack Obama’s ethics czar, and Gwen Keyes Fleming, a former DeKalb County district attorney, were among the co-authors of a Brookings Institution think tank analysis of the possible consequences Trump may be facing for demanding that Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, along with GOP Governor Brian Kemp, overturn the will of the voters and award the state’s 16 Electoral College votes to himself.

Specifically, Trump had pressured Raffensperger and Kemp to “find 11,780 votes.” President Joe Biden carried the Peach State by 11,779 votes.

“We conclude that Trump’s post-election conduct in Georgia leaves him at substantial risk of possible state charges predicated on multiple crimes,” wrote Eisen and Fleming.

The breadth of criminal indictments that could befall Trump is extensive.

They “potentially include criminal solicitation to commit election fraud; intentional interference with performance of election duties; conspiracy to commit election fraud; criminal solicitation; and state RICO violations,” the 107-page report states. “Our conclusion is based entirely on publicly available reporting and evidence, including the recording of Trump’s call to Raffensperger. Our view is anchored by a close reading of the relevant portions of Georgia’s legal code, an unpacking of the extant case law defining the stated crimes, and a searching examination of the main likely defenses. The latter pose some serious questions but (at least, based upon what is currently known of the facts) appear to be unavailing.”

The report further states that neither Trump’s executive powers nor his personal opinions entitled him to meddle with the electoral process.

“Trump’s reported efforts to twist the arms of various state officials to change the outcome in his favor were thus well outside the scope of his official duties. Stated simply, soliciting and then threatening senior state officials to alter the outcome of a presidential election does not fall within any reasoned conception of the scope of presidential power. There is thus no basis for Trump to claim that the Constitution renders him immune for criminal wrongdoing here. For that reason, we also explain, efforts by Trump to seek to remove the case to federal court based upon having a colorable federal defense would not be well-founded,” it says, elaborating that “a candidate who believes he has won an election does not enjoy any legal warrant to commit possible crimes in furtherance of that belief” and that “there is an extraordinary absence of any evidence suggestive of irregularity in any respect in the Georgia process.”

Eisen explained in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the power to count ballots lies exclusively with the states and that presidents do not have the authority to get involved.

“The president doesn’t have the right to overturn state elections to benefit himself,” Eisen said. “He doesn’t have any role in state elections.”

He emphasized that Trump’s “statements and those of his allies have unfortunately contained a great deal of false information and disinformation, and that’s another reason that it’s important to put the undisputed facts out there in great detail.”

The authors concluded that prosecutors have the evidence they need to pursue criminal complaints against the 75-year-old twice-impeached ex-commander in chief.

“We assess that Trump is at substantial risk of prosecution in Fulton County based upon what is currently known of the facts. Additional evidence uncovered by the DA’s ongoing investigation may expand or contract the scope of conduct upon which charges, if any, may be brought. But it is critical to the integrity of our rule of law system, and our constitutional republic, that the investigation proceed. As we explain in the conclusion to this paper, we of course recognize the norm that our nation does not use the courts to persecute unsuccessful candidates for high office. But there is a countervailing and even more foundational principle here at stake. As [United States Supreme Court Associate] Justice [Brett] Kavanaugh noted in Trump v. Vance, ‘no one is above the law,'” they said, adding that “there can be no doubt that prosecutors should take extra care and deliberation when considering charges against former public officials and those associated with them. But if they were somehow exempt, or ultimately subject to different and lower standards of liability, that would betray the core ideas of American justice.”

Read the full Brookings Institution report here.



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