Are there legal implications for President Trump's leaked phone call with Georgia official?

ByKristen Sze and Eric Shackelford KGO logo
Tuesday, January 5, 2021
Trump's phone call leaked with a Georgia official, now what?
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Can President Donald Trump face legal issues over his leaked conversation with a top Georgia official? One Atlanta-based attorney says yes.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The leaked conversation between President Donald Trump and Georgia's secretary of state, Republican Brad Raffensperger has caused a lot of questions.

We talked with Atlanta-based criminal defense attorney Ryan Locke about some of the quotes and if any of this could lead to legal charges.

RELATED: President Trump, on tape, presses Georgia official to 'find' him votes

President Donald Trump is heard on tape pleading with Georgia's election chief to overturn Joe Biden's win in the state.

President Trump: "I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have."

"Here in Georgia, it's a crime to solicit someone to commit election fraud," Locke said. He added that this comment along with the facts that every vote has been counted and the results have been certified is enough to launch an investigation.

President Trump: "You know what they did and you're not reporting it. You know, that's a criminal - that's a criminal offense."

President Trump is referring to debunked theories that ballots were shredded and that voting machines operated by Dominion Voting Systems were tampered with and replaced. "It doesn't change the fact that he was asking the secretary of state to change the results of the election for his benefit," Locke said referring to Trump's comment. "So yes, I think it's certainly a threat."

So what are the potential charges?

Soliciting election fraud and soliciting an official to produce a false report were two potential charges that Locke brought up. He pointed out that Fani Willis is the new district attorney in Fulton County, where charges would likely be filed, and she ran on a platform of eliminating public corruption. He said this is certainly under the criteria that she would consider pursuing.

Is it legal to record the conversation without consent?

Yes, in D.C. and Georgia you just need one party's consent and that person can be yourself. Of course, in California you need both parties to consent.

Would there be any federal charges?

President-elect Joe Biden will nominate the next U.S. attorney from the northern district of Georgia - and that person will decide whether or not to bring federal charges against President Trump in Georgia. "I would look very closely at who President-elect Biden nominates and I think that will signal to you whether there's the political will for the top federal prosecutor here in Atlanta to bring charges."