News outlets took President Donald Trump’s comments to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger out of context during a phone call that was later leaked to the press, said Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz.
Mainstream outlets initially interpreted Trump’s remarks to Raffensberger as an attempt at a shakedown to “find 11,780 votes” in Georgia for the Nov. 3 presidential contest.
But the full transcript of the call showed that Trump asserted that he won the state and asked the election official to probe election irregularities—something he has been saying publicly for weeks.
“He’s not saying I want you to create the vote,” said Dershowitz in the interview. “He’s not saying I want you to manufacture or concoct the votes. He’s saying, and he’s been saying this for months, on Twitter and his statements and his campaign’s, he thinks that people voted for him and those votes weren’t counted. He’s entitled as a citizen, as a candidate, to say, ‘I want you to find those votes, I want you to find the votes that will pass for me and what weren’t counted, I want you to find votes that were cast against me that shouldn’t have been counted—by people who are dead people, who are out of state.”
Trump’s campaign dismissed the allegations that the president was engaging in untoward or criminal activity when he spoke with Raffensberger.
On Monday, Jason Miller, a campaign adviser, said the full recording and transcript showed Trump was “spot-on in his criticisms of the terrible job Raffensperger did.”
According to a transcript of the call, Trump told Raffensperger: “The bottom line is, when you add it all up and then you start adding, you know, 300,000 fake ballots. He also made reference to allegations of election fraud in the state.
“We’re looking into every one of those things that you mentioned,” one official told Trump on the call. “Let me tell you what we are seeing. What we’re seeing is not at all what you’re describing.”
But the call, which drew widespread media attention, was floated as a possible starting point for another House impeachment investigation into Trump.
In a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) asked the bureau to launch a criminal probe into the call.
Dershowitz, for his part, said there was no crime committed.
“I’ve been teaching criminal law for over 50 years,” he added. “I went through every word of that transcript, there is no crime there, period.”