UPDATED Feb. 10, 12:59 p.m.
Former President Trump is facing fresh criminal peril thanks to that notorious Georgia phone call.
A district attorney in Georgia has opened a criminal investigation into attempts to influence the 2020 election, in a probe that reportedly includes Trump’s attempt to pressure local election officials to “find” votes.
Recently-elected Fulton County DA Fani Willis has sent letters to local state government officials asking them to preserve documents relating to the investigation, according to a copy of the letter reviewed by VICE News. During the infamous January 2 conference call, Trump hectored Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to help him find enough votes to declare Trump the winner.
Trump lost Georgia by only a few thousand votes, although victory in the state would have meant he still needed to flip two more swing states to emerge victorious in the 2020 election.
A spokesperson for Willis’ office didn’t immediately return a request for comment from VICE News about the report.
While the letter doesn’t specifically mention Trump’s name, the probe is understood to include the Trump call, according to the New York Times, which first reported the existence of the investigation on Wednesday.
“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,” reads the letter, which was addressed to Georgia’s secretary of state and dated February 10.
Willis’ letter described the probe as an important investigation and said grand jury subpoenas may be sent out as soon as March.
“This matter is of high priority,” the letter reads. “The next Fulton County grand jury is due to convene in March, and this office will begin requesting grand jury subpoenas as necessary at that time. At this stage, we have no reason to believe that any Georgia official is a target of this investigation.”
Trump spokesman Jason Miller dismissed the probe as political, in light of its emergence on the second day of Trump’s Senate impeachment proceeding.
“The timing here is not accidental given today’s impeachment trial,” Miller said. “This is simply the Democrats’ latest attempt to score political points by continuing their witch hunt against President Trump, and everybody sees through it.”
The decision represents a potentially politically explosive move by Willis, a Democrat who was sworn into her new post less than a week after the infamous call took place. News of the probe comes only days after the Secretary of State’s office launched its own fact-finding inquiry into the matter, which could result in a referral to a prosecutor’s office.
The investigation means that Trump now faces criminal probes in two states, including one led by the Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, who is investigating potential irregularities in Trump’s business affairs.
Trump’s call was only one of multiple attempts he made to persuade top Republicans Georgia to locate instances of voter fraud that could help carry the state, according to the Times. Trump also called the state’s governor, Brian Kemp, in early December, and pressured him to bring the legislature into a special session and flip his election loss into a victory, the Times said.
Willis has pledged in the past to treat the matter without political bias.
“Like many Americans, I have found the news reports about the president’s telephone call with the Georgia secretary of state disturbing,” Willis said in a statement. “As district attorney, I will enforce the law without fear or favor. Anyone who commits a felony violation of Georgia law in my jurisdiction will be held accountable.”
Legal experts have said Trump may have broken both federal and state criminal statutes. Trump also incessantly repeated groundless conspiracy theories, railed about dead people voting, and switched between cajoling, begging, and threatening.
The call, which included Trump, Raffensperger, Trump’s White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, and multiple lawyers, was tape-recorded and then leaked to the media, including the Washington Post.
“All I want to do is this,” Trump told Raffensperger. “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have, because we won the state.”
Earlier this week, a spokesman for Trump said the call was totally appropriate.
“There was nothing improper or untoward about a scheduled call between President Trump, Secretary Raffensperger, and lawyers on both sides,” Miller told The New York Times earlier this week. “If Mr. Raffensperger didn’t want to receive calls about the election, he shouldn’t have run for secretary of state.”