Trump’s Lawyer’s ‘Rap Lyrics Defense’ Could Keep Trump Out of Jail

Trump’s lawyer has worked for hip-hop stars like Cardi B, Migos, and Gucci Mane. He says there’s a parallel between Trump’s Georgia probe and the rap world.
Young Thug (L) has seen his lyrics used against him in court. Donald Trump's lawyer says his call to a state official is not much different.

Was former president Donald Trump’s infamous call to a Georgia state official evidence of a crime?

Not according to Trump’s attorney, Drew Findling. And to illustrate his point, Findling draws a comparison to the rap game. 

Findling, who built a career representing the biggest names in hip-hop, like Cardi B, Migos and Gucci Mane, argues there’s a link between prosecutors’ controversial use of rap lyrics to buttress criminal charges against hip-hop stars, and Trump’s notorious phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, during which Trump said he wanted to “find” enough votes to allow him to win Georgia in the 2020 election. 


And that link is, according to Findling: context. 

“When we look at the full context, that's when we realize there is no criminal case,” Findling told VICE News during an exclusive interview at his home late last year. “And that's one of the reasons that we jumped into this case when asked to.”

The hour-long Trump-Raffensperger phone call is a focal point in Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ sprawling investigation of Trump and his allies’ attempts to reverse his 2020 electoral defeat in Georgia. The probe is now winding towards a conclusion, after a special purpose grand jury recommended charging over a dozen people last month, “potentially” including Trump, according to the panel’s foreperson. Willis said in late January that charging decisions are “imminent.” 

A few of Trump’s lines from that call, which was recorded and leaked to the Washington Post among others, have ricocheted through the media, especially the part in which Trump told Raffensperger he wanted to “find” enough votes to overcome Biden’s 11,779-vote. 


About midway through the call, Trump said: “So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have, because we won the state.”

But focusing on just a few lines from the call is misguided, Findling argues—for the same reason that prosecutors miss the mark when they rely on a few words that hip-hop artists use in their albums to support criminal indictments of rap stars. 

“Prosecutors, first of all, don't know the first thing about lyrics,” Findling told me. “They'll take out eight or nine words. They'll take out something that lasts a few seconds and say, ‘Aha, this is evidence of some wrongdoing.’ In like fashion, no one ever talks about the full 62 minutes. No one ever talks about the surrounding circumstances of those 62 minutes.” 

Findling declined to dive more deeply into the details of the Trump case, or to say what the all-important additional information about the phone call might be. In August, however, shortly after he was hired to handle the case, he told the New York Times that the Trump-Raffensperger conversation amounted to an effort to “negotiate a resolution” to a civil legal matter. 

Such an explanation would cast the phone call, in which there were multiple lawyers on the line from both sides, as an attempt to mediate the dispute over the election—rather than, as Trump’s critics would have it, as an attempt by a sitting president to steal an election he lost. 


It remains to be seen whether Willis will agree with Findling’s view of the call, or treat it as evidence supporting a future indictment of the former president. Now that the special purpose grand jury has completed its report and made recommendations, Willis must decide whether to seek criminal charges from a regular grand jury. 

But she’s been clear that she considers the use of lyrics in a criminal indictment as fair game—as Willis recently did against Young Thug

Her office’s sweeping indictment of the rapper, whose real name is Jeffery Lamar Williams, along with over two-dozen others for alleged gang activity, quoted his lyrics. That includes the time he rapped in 2021: “I killed his man in front of his momma.” Williams has pleaded not guilty.

“No one ever talks about the surrounding circumstances of those 62 minutes”

In August, Willis told a press conference: “I think if you decide to admit your crimes over a beat, I’m going use it.” 

She added: “I have some legal advice. Don’t confess to crimes on rap lyrics if you do not want them used, or at least get out of my county.”

The special purpose grand jury put a special focus on the call, the foreperson, Emily Kohrs, told reporters last week. 

“We definitely started with the first phone call, the call to Secretary Raffensperger that was so publicized,” Kohrs told the New York Times, before stating that Trump is “potentially” among the names recommended for criminal indictment. 

Trump has insisted he did nothing wrong, and that the call to Raffensperger was “perfect.”