Merrick Garland

Both Went Out of Their Way to Unlawfully Pressure Georgia Election Officials

Checks and Balances Project (C&BP) today asked presumptive members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to press Attorney General Nominee Merrick Garland to commit to probing President Donald Trump and Senator Lindsey Graham for gross election interference in Georgia.

Under federal statute 52 U.S. Code § 20511, it is illegal for anyone to engage in conduct that “knowingly and willfully deprives, defrauds, or attempts to deprive or defraud the residents of a State of a fair and impartially conducted election process.”

Trump and Graham should know that tampering with elections is illegal, given how much both men complained about imaginary election “fraud” throughout 2020. Yet, both went out of their way to unlawfully pressure Georgia election officials to change the vote in favor of Trump. This would have reversed the results of a free and fair election.

“I just want to find 11,780 votes.”

President Trump attempted to reach Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger at least 18 times before finally speaking with him in a recorded conversation on January 2, 2021.

“I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state,” Trump told Raffensperger, adding that he could face criminal consequences by refusing to change vote totals as Trump wanted. “There’s nothing wrong with saying, you know, um, that you’ve recalculated.”

“Well, Mr. President,” Raffensperger responded, “the challenge that you have is the data you have is wrong.”

Separately, on November 13, 2021, Graham called Raffensperger, urging him to look into signature issues on ballots. Graham also questioned the legitimacy of ballots.

Graham’s Interference

Raffensperger later told CNN that he felt Graham was telling him to “look hard and see how many ballots you could throw out.”

These examples of election tampering are fresh violations, and they cannot be swept under the rug. The mob attack on the Capitol, and the resulting death and destruction have made it clear that the words of our elected officials have consequences. As the world’s oldest democracy, our elections also have global importance that directly affect our nation’s international influence and diplomacy.

Those who broke the law must face the consequences. It will fall to the Department of Justice and the courts to provide that accountability to the fullest extent of the law.

No taxpayer wants to have their money spent on salaries for public officials who engage in illegal conduct. Any notion that the country should just “move on” without accountability will enable future election crimes. The Senate Judiciary Committee has a unique responsibility to restore public faith in our democracy by taking this step. They can help the country re-establish the idea that we are a nation of laws for everyone, despite the awkwardness of asking about a potential probe into the Committee’s chair in the previous Congress, Senator Lindsey Graham.  


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Scott Peterson is executive director of Checks and Balances Project, an investigative watchdog blog holding government officials, lobbyists, and corporate management accountable to the public. Funding for C&BP is provided by Renew American Prosperity and individual donors.