Trump is inviting criminal prosecution

Trump is inviting criminal prosecution when his term as President expires on January 20.  Consider the trail of criminal charges he potentially faces, including the 3 p.m. Saturday, January 2  call to Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s Secretary of State.

He repeatedly made criminal solicitations in the hour-long phone conversation. That he allowed the conversation to be tape-recorded indicates his contempt for both the democratic process and the laws governing elections. Trump repeatedly urged Raffensperger  to alter the outcome of the presidential vote in the state.

Raffensperger is an unlikely Trump target. First, Georgia is a state run entirely by Republicans. Second, he has been a Trump supporter and one of most talkative secretaries of state on potential voter fraud.  This just shows how Trump is willing to roll anyone under the bus.

A week before Trump’s call to the Secretary of State, The Washington Post has reported that Trump called Georgia’s lead investigator for voter fraud a week earlier, and told him he could be a “national hero” if only he just happened to find some fraud that favored Trump.

Here is the Georgia statute Trump violated:

2015 Georgia Code
Title 21 – ELECTIONS
Chapter 2 – ELECTIONS AND PRIMARIES GENERALLY
Article 15 – MISCELLANEOUS OFFENSES
§ 21-2-604 – Criminal solicitation to commit election fraud; penalties

Universal Citation: GA Code § 21-2-604 (2015)

(a) (1) A person commits the offense of criminal solicitation to commit election fraud in the first degree when, with intent that another person engage in conduct constituting a felony under this article, he or she solicits, requests, commands, importunes, or otherwise attempts to cause the other person to engage in such conduct.

(2) A person commits the offense of criminal solicitation to commit election fraud in the second degree when, with intent that another person engage in conduct constituting a misdemeanor under this article, he or she solicits, requests, commands, importunes, or otherwise attempts to cause the other person to engage in such conduct.

(b) (1) A person convicted of the offense of criminal solicitation to commit election fraud in the first degree shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than three years.

(2) A person convicted of the offense of criminal solicitation to commit election fraud in the second degree shall be punished as for a misdemeanor.

(c) It is no defense to a prosecution for criminal solicitation to commit election fraud that the person solicited could not be guilty of the crime solicited.

(d) The provisions of subsections (a) through (c) of this Code section are cumulative and shall not supersede any other penal law of this state.

Trump may have also violated  52 U.S. Code 20511,:

U.S. Code Title 52 (Voting and Elections), Section 20511 

A person, including an election official, who in any election for Federal office-

(1) knowingly and willfully intimidates, threatens, or coerces, or attempts to intimidate, threaten, or coerce, any person for-

(A) registering to vote, or voting, or attempting to register or vote;

(B) urging or aiding any person to register to vote, to vote, or to attempt to register or vote; or

(C) exercising any right under this chapter; or

(2) knowingly and willfully deprives, defrauds, or attempts to deprive or defraud the residents of a State of a fair and impartially conducted election process, by-

(A) the procurement or submission of voter registration applications that are known by the person to be materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent under the laws of the State in which the election is held; or

(B) the procurement, casting, or tabulation of ballots that are known by the person to be materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent under the laws of the State in which the election is held,

shall be fined in accordance with title 18 (which fines shall be paid into the general fund of the Treasury, miscellaneous receipts (pursuant to section 3302 of title 31), notwithstanding any other law), or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.

Since we know he is obsessed with denying his defeat, he may well have made other calls that day and on other days to officials in other states.

There are numerous other criminal investigations that have been delayed by Trump being office. Here are some:

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance is investigating allegations of tax, business, and insurance fraud under New York law.

  • Campaign conspiracy and Trump Organization finances
  • Inauguration funding
  • Trump super PAC funding
  • Foreign lobbying

Investigations by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia:

  • Maria Butina and the NRA.

Investigations by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia:

  • Michael Flynn’s plea agreement

Investigations by New York City, New York State and other state attorneys general:

  • Tax case: In the wake of an N.Y. Times investigation that found Trump had benefited from more than $400 million in tax schemes, city officials said they were investigating Trump’s tax payments, as did the New York State Tax Department.
  • The Trump Foundation
  • Emoluments lawsuit: The attorneys general for Maryland and D.C. sent out subpoenas earlier this month for Trump Organization and hotel financial records relating to their lawsuit that the president is in breach of the “Emoluments Clause” of the Constitution, which appears to prohibit the president from accepting payments from foreign powers while in office.

Sedition is a term some people are using to describe Trump’s conduct, but. Trump’s conduct to date has not risen to produce the likelihood of violence. Sedition is a felony (18 U.S. Code Chapter 115 – TREASON, SEDITION) punishable by fines and up to 20 years in prison. It refers to the act of inciting revolt or violence against a lawful authority with the goal of destroying or overthrowing it.  The Supreme Court has interpreted this law applying only to the “imminent lawless action” test under the First Amendment.

However, you slice it, Trump’s behavior is outside the pale, that is outside the bounds of morality, acceptable behavior, or good judgment.

Trump moved to his next option—staging an attempted coup d’état,  on January 6, risking the life of his vice-president.

Is it fair to ask if Trump’s belligerence about staying in office is owing to his fear of prosecution, both federal and state. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance is pursuing allegations of tax, business, and insurance fraud under New York law.

 

One thought on “Trump is inviting criminal prosecution”

  1. Paul: I read your “Brief” with interest. I think it must be especially helpful to lawyers as it removes all the generality about Trump’s alleged offenses and replaces it with the wording of the statutes that actually define crimes that may fit the facts of commission that we keep reading about. Thank you for providing this unique legal insight, and hope many of our lawyer brethren get to see it, too.

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