President Donald Trump’s defense attorney Bruce Castor said that the ex-president’s call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger was taken out of context and shouldn’t have even been brought up by House impeachment managers.
‘There was nothing untoward with President Trump, or any other candidate for that matter, speaking with the lead elections officer of a state,’ Castor said, as he tried to argue that when Trump asked Raffensperger to ‘find’ 11,780 votes – the amount he would need to win the state over Joe Biden – he didn’t mean pull them out of thin air.
Castor pointed out that Trump had used the word ‘find’ a number of times in the conversation, the audio of which was leaked to The Washington Post.
President Donald Trump’s defense attorney Bruce Castor said that the ex-president’s call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger was taken out of context and shouldn’t have even been brought up by House impeachment managers
‘I just want to find 11,780 votes,’ Trump told Republican secretary of state Brad Raffensperger after a recount reaffirmed Joe Biden’s victory in the state
Trump hounded state officials in Georgia in a desperate bid to secure victory there
Democratic House impeachment managers played part of the tape, using it as evidence that Trump was trying everything to overturn the election result.
His final effort, they argued, was having his supporters come to Washington on January 6, when the Electoral College vote counts would be certified by Congress – and he egged them on, which caused the insurrection.
Castor first took issue that the ‘private call’ had come to light.
‘The private call that was made public by others cannot really be the basis to claim the president intended to incite a riot because he did not publicly disclose the contents of the call,’ Castor argued.
‘How could he have hoped to use this call to invite his followers if he had no intent to make the conversation public?’ Castor asked. ‘And indeed had nothing to do with it being secretly recorded,’ the Trump lawyer added.
The Democrats had argued that the call showed Trump’s intent to overturn the election.
‘I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,’ Trump had told Georgia’s election officials.
Castor tried to argue that the way Trump used ‘find’ during the rest of the call, proved he meant that election officials should do so through legitimate means.
‘The word “find” did not come out of thin air,’ Castor told the Senate.
‘Based on an analysis of publicly available voter data that the ballot rejection rate in Georgia in 2016 was approximately 6.42 per cent. And even though a tremendous amount of new first-time mail-in ballots were included in the 2020 count, the Georgia rejection rate in 2020 was a mere four-tenths of 1 per cent – a drop from 6.42 to .4 per cent,’ Castor said. ‘President Trump wanted the signature verification to be done in public.’
‘How can a request for signature verifications to be done in public be a basis for a charge for inciting a riot?’ Castor asked.
Castor argued that when Trump instructed Raffensperger to ‘find’ the exact number of ballots he needed to win the state, it was through this specific, legal means.
‘Mr. Trump continued to use the word “find” throughout the conversation, each and every time in the context of his request that Mr. Raffensperger undertake a review of signature verifications and his concerns, generally, with ballot integrity,’ Castor said.
Castor brought up Georgia as one of his final arguments before the Trump defense rested Friday afternoon.
When Castor, who’s from Philadelphia, first brought up the call he referred to Brad Raffensperger as ‘Ben Roethlisberger,’ the quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
His decision to bring up the controversial call comes as the Georgia prosecutor heading the probe into whether Trump broke the law by trying to overturn the election in the state says it will go beyond that phone conversation.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis spoke about the scope of her office’s probe Thursday night as impeachment managers completed their case against Trump, which referenced the phone call.
‘The investigation seems that it will go past just this one phone call that we’ve discussed,’ Willis told MSNBC.
Willis indicated her office was unlikely to seek to depose former President Donald Trump, who made the call to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger where he demanded he ‘find 11,780 votes.’
But she said the call may shed light on the whether Trump had mens rea, or criminal intent, as a state of mind.
‘The other thing you said is a concept in the law and it’s mens rea, and you said it’s the state of mind of the individual important? Absolutely, when any prosecutor throughout this country is interviewing people and trying to determine if a crime was committed and if they understood what they were doing, the mens rea is always important,’ she told interviewer Rachel Maddow.
‘Obviously, if one is charged with a crime, they’re a defendant and so they have a right to remain silent. And so, no, there would be no intent to depose,’ she said.
When a grand jury convenes in March, she said she has advised relevant parties there could be subpoenas.
Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis said her probe will go beyond President Donald Trump’s infamous phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger where Trump asked the official to ‘find’ enough votes to make him the winner of the state
‘So the way to formally ask for an indictment that is compelling as opposed to just a lovely request is to issue a subpoena,’ she said. ‘And so, what I was doing as a courtesy to people that I respect very much is simply putting them on notice that when a grand jury convened, which would be in March, that they could expect to receive subpoenas.’
Willis, a Democrat, launched the probe this week. She told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution she did not have any ‘predetermined opinions.’
She sent a document preservation request to Raffensperger, the state’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and state Attorney General Chris Carr.
‘I just want to find 11,780 votes,’ Trump told Raffensperger in the call audio obtained by the Washington Post that Trump did not deny making.
Trump repeatedly hounded Kemp publicly and privately to call the legislature into a special session after a state hand recount failed to deliver the result he was looking for.
Willis told Maddow she and her office could become targets as a result of their probe – at a time when Washington, D.C. is still under National Guard protection after the Jan. 6th Capitol riot.
‘Oh, absolutely. Since we’ve opened this, we’ve gotten – my security has doubled,’ she said. ‘We’ve gotten a lot of comments. Interestingly enough, the comments are always racist, and it’s really just a waste of time and foolishness. It’s not going to stop me from doing my job, and I don’t think it’s an insult to remind me that I’m a black woman,’ said the newly elected prosecutor.