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Reps. Rice, Lieu call for FBI to probe Trump Georgia call

Rep. Kathleen Rice speaks during a news conference

Rep. Kathleen Rice speaks during a news conference in Roosevelt on Sept. 8, 2020. Credit: Barry Sloan

WASHINGTON — Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) issued a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray on Monday calling for a criminal investigation into President Donald Trump after he was heard in a leaked phone call urging Georgia’s secretary of state to "find" enough votes to overturn the state’s presidential election results.

Rice, a former Nassau County district attorney and former federal prosecutor, wrote the letter with Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), a former military prosecutor.

"As Members of Congress and former prosecutors, we believe Donald Trump engaged in solicitation of, or conspiracy to commit, a number of election crimes," wrote Rice and Lieu. "We ask you to open an immediate criminal investigation into the President."

Trump, in an hourlong Saturday phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger pressed the top official to overturn the state’s election results even as the state has conducted three separate counts of the Nov. 3 ballots cast. Throughout the call Trump raised numerous unsubstantiated claims of fraud that have been floated on social media, and he raised the prospect of holding state officials including Raffensperger accountable with a "criminal offense."

Trump lost the state to President-elect Joe Biden by 11,779 votes. The last Democratic presidential candidate to win the state was Bill Clinton in 1992.

"So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have," Trump said in the call that was made public on Sunday. "Because we won the state."

Raffensperger, a Republican, and his office’s general counsel, Ryan Germany can be heard on the call pushing back against Trump’s claims.

"Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is the data you have is wrong," Raffensperger said during the call.

Rice and Lieu in their letter argue that the president violated two federal statutes and a Georgia state law all aimed at preventing election fraud.

"The evidence of election fraud by Mr. Trump is now in broad daylight," wrote Rice and Lieu. "Given the more than ample factual predicate, we are making a criminal referral to you to open an investigation into Mr. Trump."

The FBI’s National Press Office and the White House did not immediately respond to a call requesting comment.

Rice, in a phone interview, said she believed Congress should move to censure Trump to "condemn this type of behavior."

"Unfortunately, I feel that there are a lot of people who have become immune to the potential criminal behavior of this President and his increasingly dictatorial and authoritative tendencies," Rice said. "Just because there are 14 days left doesn’t mean that we as members of Congress should be derelict in our duty to point out if the President is engaging in potentially criminal behavior."

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