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Georgia prosecutor opens criminal investigation into Trump's "attempts to influence" election

Trump's phone call with Brad Raffensperger
Trump's phone call with Brad Raffensperger 13:18

The Fulton County, Georgia, district attorney has opened a criminal investigation into Donald Trump's alleged attempts to influence the outcome of the presidential election in the state, which he lost narrowly to Joe Biden.

The prosecutor, Fani Willis, sent letters Wednesday morning to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and Attorney General Chris Carr, writing that the investigation is a "matter is of high priority." Copies of letters to the four officials were provided to CBS News. 

Sources with Willis' and Raffensperger's offices confirmed that the prosecutor is requesting documents related to a recorded January 2 phone call Mr. Trump made to Raffensperger, among others, although the letters do not explicitly name Mr. Trump or reference the phone call.

During the call, Mr. Trump asked: "What are we going to do here, folks? I only need 11,000 votes. Fellas, I need 11,000 votes. Give me a break." 

Willis wrote in her letter that her office "has opened an investigation into attempts to influence the administration of the 2020 Georgia General Election. This investigation 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 governmental bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election's administration."

The letter was first reported by The New York Times.

In a January 10 interview with CBS News' "60 Minutes," Raffensperger discussed the call and said he believed the president and his team "were just trying to intimidate me and cajole me into something."

"He was asking us to recalibrate or recalculate, I believe it was, recalculate — somehow get a different answer. But I'm an engineer. And anyone that's good with numbers knows you can calculate all you want, but the numbers are the numbers," Raffensperger said.

A source familiar with the matter said in early January that Raffensperger's office had received 18 attempted calls from the White House since Election Day, November 3. The source said the January 2 call with Mr. Trump was the first that included Raffensperger himself.

Raffensperger's office confirmed Monday that it was conducting its own investigation into the call.

Willis, a Democrat who is the first Black woman elected to be Fulton County district attorney, took office January 1. 

She requested that the offices of the four top state officials, who are all Republicans, preserve all documents related to the presidential election, "with particular care being given to set aside and preserve those that may be evidence of attempts to influence the actions of persons who were administering that election."

Asked for comment on the investigation, Jason Miller, a senior advisor to Mr. Trump, criticized Willis' decision to send the letter the day arguments were set to begin in the second impeachment trial of the former president.

"The timing here is not accidental given today's impeachment trial. This is simply the Democrats' latest attempt to score political points by continuing their witch hunt against President Trump, and everybody sees through it," Miller said.

In her letter, Willis referred to media reports that indicated Mr. Trump and members of his team had contacted multiple state officials as part of his efforts to overturn the election. She wrote that her office "is the one agency with jurisdiction that is not a witness to the conduct that is the subject of the investigation."

Willis wrote that subpoenas can be expected after Fulton County convenes its next grand jury in March.

"At this stage, we have no reason to believe that any Georgia official is a target of this investigation," Willis added.

Adam Brewster contributed reporting for this story.

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