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Atlanta DA Investigating Trump for Election Fraud

Page Pate is a criminal defense attorney who has been representing people in serious criminal cases in the Atlanta Metro area and throughout the State of Georgia for over 25 years. Page is often contacted by the media to provide his opinion on serious legal issues appearing in the news. In this case, Page was contacted by CNN to discuss the investigation of President Donald Trump by the District Attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, for possible election fraud.

Page is asked what the potential charges could be as a result of President Trump’s phone call to the Georgia Secretary of State after the 2020 Presidential Election, in which President Trump requested that a certain number of votes be found on his behalf. Page says that he thinks that “there is certainly the potential for criminal charges in Fulton County for Trump’s phone call to the Secretary of State and other people in that office. The District Attorney in Fulton County is someone I have known personally for years. She is very smart, she is very aggressive. And from what I am able to tell, she is putting her foot to the gas on this criminal investigation. Now, the potential punishment here is probably only a misdemeanor. There are various statutes in Georgia that prohibit interference with an election, and certainly, solicitation of interference with an election, which is what I think Trump was clearly doing when he placed those phone calls. Find me some extra votes. That is a request to an election official to tamper with the vote. And that is illegal in Georgia. It’s a misdemeanor, but it’s still a crime.”

Page agrees that the most incriminating evidence is the recorded call between President Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Raffensperger, which was released by the Secretary of State’s office. Page says that the call is “crystal clear” and that outside of that, “the only question becomes intent. Was that just a political statement, hey, I really hope you can find 11,000 votes? Or was he trying to instruct the Secretary of State to do something illegal? And so that will be a jury question. I mean, initially, it’s a question for the prosecutor, but if she does decide to charge, then it will be a jury question.”

Finally, the topic of President Trump’s defamation lawsuits resulting from sexual assault allegations against him is discussed. Page is asked if these cases, which were basically delayed due to the President being in office, are likely to go forward now that he is out of office. Page says that these cases will “Absolutely” proceed, and that “Trump now has no defense that he can postpone depositions or refuse to provide information in discovery. Those lawsuits will move forward just like any other lawsuit against any private individual. And we all know Trump is no stranger to litigation. So I’m certain he will be lawyered up, so to speak, and he’ll do what he can to defend those lawsuits, but defamation is pretty clear as well. If you make a false statement about someone and you publish it, you put it out there, you’re liable. And the only question becomes the amount of damages.”

 

TRANSCRIPT

Fredricka: All right, Kara Scannell, thank you so much. Of course, the former President having to lawyer up now. Let’s get more on the former President’s legal problems, straight ahead, the road ahead. With me now is Page Pate, he’s a constitutional lawyer and a criminal defense attorney, and Carrie Cordero is a CNN Legal Analyst and former counsel to the U.S. Assistant Attorney General. Good to see both of you.

All right. So, Carrie, you first. You know, we heard Mitch McConnell, the Minority Leader, saying Trump was liable for whatever he may have done while in office. Let’s begin with the D.C. and the Attorney General’s office. You know, what is being weighed as it examines the legal challenges and the probability from the former President facing charges for that insurrection?

Carrie: Well, the charges, Fred, from the insurrection itself, they’ve got a wide variety. And it primarily would be the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the District of Columbia which is part of the Justice Department, and can handle both local and federal crimes. And so they’re really the ones running the investigation into the insurrection, charging many of the individuals who were on the premises, involved in that attack. One of the things they might be looking at is seditious conspiracy, which is a charge of overtaking the government or preventing the execution of a law by force. And so it’s a federal statute that really does, in my judgment, meet what took place that day. It’s possible that they could be looking at the President and his incitement that day. Other individuals who were involved, not just in the storming of the Capitol, but in the planning of it as well.

But I have to point out that Mitch McConnell’s statements are partly disingenuous because the constitutional remedy for a president who violates his oath, which is basically what Mitch McConnell accused him of doing, by inciting this activity and by not stopping it as the day was going on, that constitutional remedy was impeachment conviction. And so while there are criminal charges available, it really doesn’t absolve the Senate Republicans who failed to convict.

Fredricka: But, of course, you heard Mitch McConnell’s earlier argument and that of other Republican senators, who still believe that it was not constitutional to try to go after a former president, even though the body voted on it and said it was a constitutional matter.

Carrie: Right. That’s right. I mean, they voted on it. And so once the senate voted on it, then that was the end of that issue, and they were supposed to go forward. And so that’s why somebody like Senator Burr, once they moved forward in that procedural vote, looked at the merits of the case. And that was what the senators’ job was, to look at the merits of the case once they moved beyond that procedural vote.

Fredricka: And Page, outside of the insurrection, at least two investigations in Georgia, you know, surrounding phone calls to pressure Georgia to change the election outcome, a phone call involving the President of the United States, Trump, suggesting the Secretary of State find 11,799 votes. And then a separate phone call involving South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham to Georgia officials. So what are the potential charges here?

Page: Well, Fred, I think there is certainly the potential for criminal charges in Fulton County for Trump’s phone call to the Secretary of State and other people in that office. The District Attorney in Fulton County is someone I have known personally for years. She is very smart, she is very aggressive. And from what I am able to tell, she is putting her foot to the gas on this criminal investigation. Now, the potential punishment here is probably only a misdemeanor. There are various statutes in Georgia that prohibit interference with an election, and certainly, solicitation of interference with an election, which is what I think Trump was clearly doing when he placed those phone calls. Find me some extra votes. That is a request to an election official to tamper with the vote. And that is illegal in Georgia. It’s a misdemeanor, but it’s still a crime.

Fredricka: Yeah. And the most incriminating evidence, correct, is that recorded phone call that everyone got to hear, that was released from Raffensperger, the Secretary of State in Georgia, his office.

Page: That’s exactly correct. And it’s crystal clear. The only question becomes intent. Was that just a political statement, hey, I really hope you can find 11,000 votes? Or was he trying to instruct the Secretary of State to do something illegal? And so that will be a jury question. I mean, initially, it’s a question for the prosecutor, but if she does decide to charge, then it will be a jury question.

Fredricka: There are also, as we heard from Kara Scannell, you know, criminal and civil charges in New York, into the dealings of the Trump Organization. This is also the case where his personal and business tax returns could be released, Carrie. So are these cases furthest along and most threatening to the former President?

Carrie: I think he does have sufficient exposure when it comes to those cases in particular because those are investigations where some of the conduct has to do with his activity before he ever became president. So they’ve had the entire length of his presidency to conduct those investigations. They wouldn’t have brought them while he was president, obviously, but now that he is a private citizen again and much of those investigations pertain to activity that he engaged in prior to becoming president, I would expect that if they have sufficient facts that demonstrate they can move forward, that they should be able to do that now fairly soon.

Fredricka: And then, Page, there, again, are these defamation lawsuits that were largely delayed because the President was in office. Now, is he fair game? You know, both of these cases that we’re talking about are by women who accused Trump of sexual assault. Do you expect these cases to be able to move forward now unlike they have been able to before?

Page: Absolutely. I mean, Trump now has no defense that he can postpone depositions or refuse to provide information in discovery. Those lawsuits will move forward just like any other lawsuit against any private individual. And we all know Trump is no stranger to litigation. So I’m certain he will be lawyered up, so to speak, and he’ll do what he can to defend those lawsuits, but defamation is pretty clear as well. If you make a false statement about someone and you publish it, you put it out there, you’re liable. And the only question becomes the amount of damages.

Fredricka: All right. Page Pate, Carrie Cordero, we’ll leave it there for now. Thank you so much.