It doesn’t matter if he only has two weeks left. He cannot pressure electoral officials to “find votes” and get away with it.
January 3, 2021
| 5:44 pm
Today the Washington Post published what Donald Trump would call the “perfect phone call”. Most other people, however, would call it a high crime and abuse of power. In response to the call, Trump abused and threatened Georgian Foreign Secretary Brad Raffensberger in an attempt to get him to find the votes necessary to overthrow the will of voters.
The conversation should be heard in full, but a few key quotes illustrate the gravity of the crime:
“The people of Georgia are angry, the people of the country are angry,” he said. “And there’s nothing wrong with saying that you recalculated.”
Raffensperger replied, “Well, Mr. President, the challenge you have is that the data you have is wrong.”
At another point, Trump said, “So look. I just want to do that. I just want to find 11,780 votes, one more than us. Because we won the state. “
At the same time, he threatened the foreign minister with targeted prosecution for not cooperating with his plan, and treated the officer as if he were part of the same team or working on a pseudo-criminal enterprise – a thing Raffensberger had none for Not enough commitment was shown:
During their conversation, Trump vaguely threatened Raffensperger and Ryan Germany, the US state secretary general, suggesting that thousands of ballot papers in Fulton County were illegally destroyed to block investigators – an accusation that there is no evidence – they are being prosecuted .
“It’s a criminal offense,” he said. “And you can’t let that happen. This is a great risk for you and for Ryan, your lawyer. “
“You have a big choice ahead of you and because of what you did to the president, you know the people of Georgia know this was a scam,” Trump said. “Because of what you did to the president, many people will not vote, and many Republicans will vote negative because they hate what you did to the president. OK? You hate it. And they will vote. And you would be respected, really respected, if that could be resolved before the elections. “
As with so much of Trump’s behavior, it is difficult to know how illegal it is because we often do not have specific laws that cover the particular types of tremendous ethical violations that the president is committing. As a result, many experts note that prosecuting Trump for this behavior can be difficult. Jennifer Rubin of the Post is more confident about the law enforcement potential: There is justification that Trump violated laws that violate citizens against free and fair elections, against blackmailing an official and against admonishing an official to commit election fraud.
As difficult as it may be to prosecute Trump as a private individual for this, more specifically, this type of infraction is exactly what impeachment should cover. It is impossible to write laws that cover all the specific ways a president could violate his oath of office, abuse power, or threaten democracy. The phrase “major crimes and misdemeanors” is intentionally vague.
More progressive members of the House are hungry for impeachment. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said today that she believes it is a criminal offense and that she would bring impeachment items to the ground. And why not? Impeachment would have little legislative or political cost. As David Dayen noted on Twitter today:
Nothing of importance can go by until the Georgian drains are certified. The service life is meaningless. A Democratic party that seeks to take advantage of and reinforce the opposition’s breach would likely indict Trump again for attempting to steal the elections.
– David Dayen (@ddayen) January 3, 2021
Of course, the Republican Senate wouldn’t vote to remove him, and of course Trump is leaving in just two weeks. However, there needs to be some form of official accountability for this behavior. If neither Congress nor the criminal courts raise substantial objections beyond a strongly worded letter, this will happen again and again until a budding dictator succeeds in destroying the remnants of American democracy. Even Republicans who do not support rejecting properly appointed voters are already suggesting that they might be willing to support Trump’s coup – if it had a better chance of success.
And yes, of course, it’s a symbolic accountability mechanism. But it is the strongest that is currently available. It’s better than doing nothing. And Senate Republicans should be briefed again on whether they are willing to condone and encourage this type of behavior. Let voters know exactly where they stand and let history judge their legacy accordingly.
The House has already charged Trump with extorting a phone call to a foreign government that encouraged a crime. It can and should re-indict him of an even more serious threat to a domestic official.