The Georgia Secretary of State’s office on Monday launched an investigation into a phone call former President Donald Trump had with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger over settling two lawsuits filed by Trump and his lawyers.
An official with Raffensperger’s office confirmed to The Epoch Times that an investigation was started on Feb. 8 into the phone call.
The findings of the investigation will be presented to the State Election Board.
The board can vote to dismiss, choose to impose a fine, issue a letter of instruction, or refer the matter to the state attorney general or a district attorney for prosecution.
“The Secretary of State’s office investigates complaints it receives,” Walter Jones, a spokesman for the office, told news outlets. He characterized the investigation as “fact finding and administrative.”
The investigation will look into an hour-long phone call between Trump, Raffensperger, and their lawyers that took place on Jan. 2.
On Jan. 7, Trump’s legal team filed a voluntary dismissal of the lawsuits, citing an “out of court settlement agreement.”
During the Jan. 2 call, Trump had said of the lawsuits, “I just want to find 11,780 votes,” referring to the margin of votes by which President Joe Biden won the state. Trump had also claimed in the call, “We won by hundreds of thousands of votes”—claims that Raffensperger’s team repeatedly challenged.
Raffensperger later suggested that the leaked call to The Washington Post had come from his office.
“It was a private conversation. He broke privacy when he put out a tweet, but then his tweet was false,” Raffensperger told WXIA at the time.
“If President Trump hadn’t have tweeted out anything and would’ve stayed silent, we would’ve stayed silent as well. And that would’ve just been a conversation between him and I, man to man, and that would’ve been just fine with us. But he’s the one that had to put it out on Twitter,” he added.
Trump’s lawyer Kurt Hilbert condemned the leak, saying “we are disappointed that the secretary of state and his staff secretly recorded and released a confidential settlement discussion.”
The full transcript of the call that later emerged showed that before Trump said he wanted to “find” the 11,780 votes, he had asked election officials to look into a number of specific claims of election irregularities—something he had been saying publicly for weeks, prior to the call.
The claims included allegations of “cheating” and “corruption” that the president said denied him a win in Georgia.
“We have at least two or three—anywhere from 250,000 to 300,000 ballots were dropped mysteriously into the rolls,” the then-president claimed on the call. “Much of that had to do with Fulton County, which hasn’t been checked. We think that if you check the signatures—a real check of the signatures going back in Fulton County—you’ll find at least a couple of hundred thousand of forged signatures of people who have been forged.”
Raffensperger and his lawyer, Ryan Germany, repeatedly disagreed with Trump’s claims during the call, saying that the issues Trump raised were either inaccurate or have been probed and shown to be untrue.
“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.”
In part of the call, Trump had asked Raffensperger to allow for a full signature audit for Fulton County after the Cobb County audit showed no significant discrepancies with the count. Trump also asked whether ballots in Fulton County had been shredded. Fulton County is where the majority of complaints about potential voting fraud were lodged.
“We can go through signature verification, and we’ll find hundreds of thousands of signatures, if you let us do it,” Trump pressed. “The only way you can do a signature verification is go from the one that signed … and compare it to two years ago, four years ago, six years ago … and you’ll find that you have many different signatures. But in Fulton, where they dumped ballots. You will find that you have many that aren’t even signed and you have many that are forgeries.”
Neither Raffensperger’s office and Trump’s office were able to respond in time to a request for comment from The Epoch Times.
Melanie Sun, Tom Ozimek, and Reuters contributed to this report.