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Criminal probe launched into ‘attempts to influence’ US election after Trump phone call
10 February 2021, 19:03 | Updated: 10 February 2021, 20:52
Prosecutors in the US state of Georgia have opened a criminal investigation into "attempts to influence" the outcome of last year's election after Donald Trump’s phone call to secretary of state Brad Raffensperger.
The former president has come under intense criticism for the call in which he asked Mr Raffensperger, the state’s top election official, to "find" more than 11,000 votes to overturn Joe Biden's victory there.
During the January 2 call, Mr Trump repeatedly argued Mr Raffensperger could change the certified results, an assertion the secretary of state firmly rejected.
"All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have," Mr Trump said. "Because we won the state."
Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis has informed Mr Raffensperger, as well as the state's governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, that an investigation has been opened.
In a letter, she added all records related to the administration of the election should be preserved particularly those that may be evidence of attempts to influence the actions of people administering the election.
Jeff DiSantis, a spokesman for Ms Willis, said he could not name the subjects of the investigation, but added in an email that "the matters reported on over the last several weeks are the matters being investigated".
The initiation of a criminal probe comes just two days after Mr Raffensperger's office opened an administrative investigation into the call prompted by a third-party complaint that alleged Mr Trump had violated Georgia law.
Investigators with the secretary of state's office who look into such complaints are expected to present their findings to the state election board.
If the board believes there is evidence a crime has occurred, it could take action ranging from issuing a letter of reprimand to referring the case to Georgia's attorney general or to a local district attorney.