On Monday (February 8), the Georgia Secretary of State’s office formally launched an investigation into former President Donald Trump’s phone calls to state election officials in which he sought help to overturn the key state’s presidential election results.
The investigation follows a series of formal complaints filed by a law professor alleging that Trump violated the law during the calls. It also marks the first formal investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn election results in the state, which Joe Biden decisively won.
“The Secretary of State’s office investigates complaints it receives,” said Walter Jones, a spokesperson for Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger‘s office, according to ABC News. “The investigations are fact-finding and administrative in nature. Any further legal efforts will be left to the Attorney General.”
Jones said in an initial statement to ABC News that the investigation is being conducted by the State Election Board, which is part of Raffensperger’s office.
During the first call Trump allegedly made to Georgia officials in December he asked a chief investigator in the Secretary of State’s office to “find the fraud,” and claimed they would be a “national hero” for doing so.
In a January 2 call, Trump allegedly said multiple times that Raffensperger needed to “find” the exact number of votes, which were 11,780, needed to be victorious in the southern state. Georgia’s election results were certified twice.
Once the investigation is completed, the board will vote whether to send a criminal referral to the state attorney general or district attorney.
Fulton County’s District Attorney Fani Willis has previously described the Trump-Raffensperger call as “disturbing.” In a statement after the calls became public, Willis said she’ll pursue any wrongdoing aggressively.
“As I promised Fulton County voters last year, as District Attorney, I will enforce the law without fear or favor,” Willis said in the January 4 statement. “Anyone who commits a felony violation of Georgia law in my jurisdiction will be held accountable. Once the investigation is complete, this matter, like all matters, will be handled by our office based on the facts and the law.”
Willis’ associates say she could also decide on her own to pursue a probe, ABC News reports.