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UK election law expert: Trump's phone conversation with Georgia officials 'corrupt and improper'

Posted at 6:27 PM, Jan 04, 2021

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A prominent professor of election law at the University of Kentucky said the recorded conversation between President Donald Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger warrants an investigation on both the state and federal levels.

"No one should be justifying this call as anything but corrupt and improper," Professor Joshua Douglas said.

Douglas noted that federal and state law prohibit "this kind of conduct," which he said potentially amounts to the solicitation of election fraud.

During the call, President Trump repeatedly pressed Raffensperger to "find" enough votes to overturn the election in his favor.

On Monday, the sole Democratic member of Georgia's Board of Election wrote a letter to Raffensperger suggesting that a criminal probe be opened into the president's conduct on the phone call. Two Democratic lawmakers in the House of Representatives have asked FBI Director Christopher Wray to investigate the call.

But Douglas said prosecuting this case would need to meet a high bar.

"Certainly one question that prosecutors would ask and a jury would have to determine is the president's state of mind," he explained. "That is, did he intend to violate the law or intend to seek the Secretary of State of Georgia to manufacture additional votes to put him over the top?"

Douglas also worries about the current climate, pointing out that any prosecution of a president would be perceived as entirely political.

"I would love to see some prominent Republicans come out and explain why this phone call was so problematic, which I haven't seen to much extent yet," Douglas said.