Fulton DA’s probe will include Graham’s call to Raffensperger

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., walks to a meeting with the lawyers of former President Donald Trump on the fourth day of the Senate Impeachment trials for former President Trump at the Capitol Hill,  Friday, Feb 12, 2021 in Washington.  (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via AP, Pool)
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., walks to a meeting with the lawyers of former President Donald Trump on the fourth day of the Senate Impeachment trials for former President Trump at the Capitol Hill, Friday, Feb 12, 2021 in Washington. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via AP, Pool)

Credit: Jabin Botsford

Credit: Jabin Botsford

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis plans to examine a call between U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger as part of a far-reaching criminal investigation into whether former President Donald Trump broke Georgia laws, according to an official with direct knowledge of the inquiry.

Prosecutors are expected to scrutinize the call between the Republican senator and Raffensperger, who previously said Graham contacted him days after the Nov. 3 election to question whether he had the power to reject more legally cast absentee ballots to help Trump narrow his deficit in Georgia.

Graham, a staunch ally of Trump, has denied that allegation.

ExploreGeorgia elections head says Graham questioned absentee rejections

The inquiry is part of a broader probe that centers on Trump’s demand that Raffensperger “find” enough votes to overturn the election, said the official, who stressed that it was a routine part of the investigation and may yield little new information.

Trump waged an extraordinary campaign to pressure Raffensperger and other state officials to reverse his narrow defeat in Georgia, but legal experts were mixed as to whether the former president’s behavior rose to the level of criminality.

In an interview Wednesday with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Willis would not say if any Trump associates might also be under investigation. Willis said she launched the probe because the Fulton DA’s office was “the one agency with jurisdiction that is not a witness to the conduct that is the subject of the investigation.”

08/12/2020 -Atlanta, Georgia - Newly elected Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis talks about her victory over her former boss, outgoing Fulton County District Attorney Paul D. Howard, at her private practice office in Atlanta, Wednesday, August 12, 2020. Willis will be the first woman to serve as district attorney in Fulton County. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
08/12/2020 -Atlanta, Georgia - Newly elected Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis talks about her victory over her former boss, outgoing Fulton County District Attorney Paul D. Howard, at her private practice office in Atlanta, Wednesday, August 12, 2020. Willis will be the first woman to serve as district attorney in Fulton County. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

Credit: ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM

Credit: ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM

Willis, who was elected in November on a pledge to beef up anti-corruption prosecution, on Wednesday sent notices to Raffensperger, Gov. Brian Kemp, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and Attorney General Chris Carr asking them to preserve key documents that could be helpful to the probe.

“This investigation includes, but is not limited to, potential violations of Georgia law prohibiting the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local governmental bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election’s administration,” Willis wrote.

Graham spokesman Kevin Bishop told The Washington Post, which first reported the inquiry, that the notion that Graham’s call was improper was “ridiculous” and suggested the timing was aimed at damaging Trump amid his second impeachment trial.

“Sen. Graham was asking about how the signature verification process worked,” Bishop said. “He never asked the Secretary of State to disqualify a ballot cast by anyone. The timing on this is also quite curious. It seems to be a less than transparent effort to marginalize anyone who helps President Trump.”

In the interview with the AJC, Willis dismissed criticism from those who accuse her of being a political opportunist.

“I’m not trying to make a name for myself,” she said.

ExploreTrump impeachment attorneys describe Raffensperger call as a search for the truth

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