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Arizona secretary of state asks for investigation into possible election interference by Trump, Giuliani

Arizona election audit reaches final stages
Arizona election audit reaches final stages 07:29

Washington — Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs on Wednesday called for the state's attorney general to investigate possible efforts by former President Trump, his lawyer Rudy Giuliani and others to pressure Maricopa County election officials during vote-counting in November.

Citing a report in the Arizona Republic, Hobbs said in a letter to Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich that the alleged conduct by Mr. Trump, Giuliani, conservative lawyer Sidney Powell and Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward may have violated a state law that prohibits interfering with election officials. 

"Arizona law protects election officials from those who would seek to interfere with their sacred duties to ascertain and certify the will of the voters," Hobbs said. "At the polling place, this law protects the right to vote. At the counting center, it protects the accuracy of results, free from political interference. But what protection exists for officials who fulfill their duties despite threats of political retribution if the person empowered to enforce the law is unwilling to do the same?"

The Arizona Republic reported last week that Mr. Trump twice tried to reach Clint Hickman, then-chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, in the weeks after the presidential election, but the calls went to his voicemail. Giuliani, too, reportedly called Maricopa County supervisors and left voicemails that were obtained by the news outlet.

The Arizona Republic also published text messages from Ward to members of the board of supervisors, including one in which she wrote, "We need you to stop counting." In another, Ward reportedly told the board's chairman "I know you don't want to be remembered as the guy who led the charge to certify a fraudulent election."

Hobbs said the attempted contacts by Mr. Trump, Giuliani and Ward "involve clear efforts to induce supervisors to refuse to comply with their duties," while Ward's messages were an attempt "to convince him not to fulfill the board's statutory duty to canvass the election."

Arizona was one of the battleground states where Mr. Trump attempted to challenge the results of the election, alleging ballots were mishandled in Maricopa County, though his efforts were unsuccessful. President Biden defeated Mr. Trump in the state by 10,457 votes, becoming the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Arizona since 1996.

Though the state certified its election results, Arizona's GOP-controlled state Senate mounted a full hand recount and audit of the ballots and voting machines in Maricopa County, the state's largest, earning praise from Mr. Trump.

The Republican-led board of supervisors objected to the review, and the state has already audited ballots and election equipment, finding no issues with the results of the 2020 election.

The findings from the audit are expected to be released in a report this summer.

In addition to a possible investigation in Arizona, Mr. Trump is also under scrutiny by the district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, for his alleged attempts to influence the outcome of the election in the state. In a January 2 call with its secretary of state Brad Raffensperger, Mr. Trump pressured him to "find" enough votes to crown him the winner. Mr. Biden also won Georgia.

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