President Trump called Georgian Foreign Minister Brad Raffensperger on Saturday an explicit and repeated request that the election overseer in a critical battlefield state “finds” a sufficient number of votes to overturn that state’s election of President-elect Joe Biden.
This is an invitation to vote fraud.
This is an abuse of office.
And yes, it is a criminal offense. So clear that Free speech for people President John Bonifaz, one of the country’s most consistent advocates of President accountability, says“Congress should vote immediately on new impeachment proceedings against this lawless president.”
There was nothing fine about the President’s lawless invitation. He pressured an electoral officer to “find” the votes he needed to “win” a state that he lost with 11,779 votes After a regular census, recounts and an examination confirmed the accuracy of the result that gave Biden the votes of the state electoral college.
“Look here,” said the President to Raffensperger. “All I want to do is: I only want to get 11,780 votes, one more than us because we won the state.”
Over and over again in the course of the hour-long streak – a tape of which was received from The Washington Post– Trump returned to the demand. “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 calmly explained to the President that “the challenge you have, the data you have is wrong.” But Trump didn’t back down.
“So tell me, Brad,” Trump said to the Secretary of State, “what do we do now? We won the election and it’s not fair to take it away from us like that. And it will be like that very expensive in many ways. ”
It was an illegal appeal so illegal it immediately sparked speculation about the president’s prosecution. And for a good reason. Recalling the “very costly” threat, experienced prosecutors (and lead attorney for the 2019 impeachment investigation) Daniel Goldman watched“I have been charged with extortion in similar language mob cases.”
“We now have irrefutable evidence that a president is putting an official in his own party under pressure and threatening to induce him to overturn the legal, certified number of votes of one state and fabricate another in his place.” said Bob Bauer, a senior adviser to President-elect Joe Biden.
As a law professor at Georgia State University Anthony Michael Kreis explained to Politico On Sunday:
The Georgia Code states that anyone who solicits, solicits, commands, or otherwise attempts to encourage election fraud is guilty of inciting election fraud. “Request or Request” is the key language. The President no doubt urged the Secretary of State to invent voices and create voices that were not there. Not only did he ask to break the specific lead Joe Biden won, but he also said we needed an extra vote to secure victory in Georgia.
The president’s apparent misconduct made everyone talk about the prospect of Trump committing one more abuse of office. “The likelihood that Trump will declare self-forgiveness has increased significantly” tweeted former US attorney for the southern borough of New York Preet Bharara.
But before we talk about prosecution and pardons, House Democrats should talk about the charges against Donald Trump.
Once again. Proud. Not excused.
Yes, of course, Trump’s term is almost over.
Yes, of course, Trump was charged once during the tortured course of his tenure.
Yes, of course everyone knows that Senate Republicans are unwilling to hold this president accountable.
But that doesn’t change the fact that Trump has launched impeachment proceedings that are too compelling to ignore. “The President of the United States was caught on tape trying to rig a presidential election. This is a low point in American history, and undoubtedly unimpeachable behavior. It’s undeniable and devastating, ”said Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics said Sunday. “When the Senate acquitted President Trump for abusing his powers to get re-elected, we worried that he was becoming bolder in his attempts to falsely and illegally hold himself in power. He has.”
“While the logistics of holding impeachment trials in the last two weeks of a presidency are admittedly difficult to accomplish, it is literally nothing unless it is incontestable behavior,” he said. “Congress must act immediately.”
Buchbinder is right.
The power to impeach is not limited in time.
The duty to prosecute cannot be ignored simply because Mitch McConnell and his henchmen have no sense of duty or shame.
Impeachment is a multifaceted accountability tool that can not only put a process in place for the Senate to remove an official – as it should have done in February when that chamber was considering Trump’s high crimes and misdemeanors – but reprimand a wrongdoer also for the House of Representatives. The Democratic-controlled chamber, the House, has to deal with this apparent abuse of office.
A failure to hold Trump accountable for pressuring a secretary of state to “find” votes that would turn a legitimate election result upside down – and to suggest to that secretary of state that failing to make his illegal bids “very much expensive ”- this is not simply unacceptable. It is a tremendous affront to constitutional governance.
Republicans like McConnell may be comfortable with this insult.
However, Democrats should recognize that impeachment can and must be exercised when criminal acts are committed.