Andrew Weissmann, the former senior prosecutor for special counsel Robert Mueller, explained to MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace that the lawyers on the Georgia call with President Donald Trump are asking for a completely different thing than Trump was.
"I would add that the Ukraine call, that led to impeachment, which is remarkably similar," said Weissmann. "The difference now is one of timing. His presidency is about to be over and you're exactly right that there's now a really different level of pressure on the new administration as to what it's going to do. In other words, will it be okay for the president to do what happened here, the precedent of not being accountable?"
He went on to explain that there are federal and state laws that regulate election tampering that was captured in the call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, all of which come down to the "intent" of the accused.
"So, you know, if the president were acting because he genuinely believed that there were people who voted for President-elect Biden who should not legally have been counted. If he had those facts or good faith belief, then that would be a valid defense both under federal and state law. But I could give you a mini summation just from that hour tape leaving aside his motive and all of the other crime evidence, all of the other actions ... that make it clear that there's sufficient evidence to at the very least open an investigation," Weissmann went on.
He noted that right now, the decision is not about charging Trump but about whether there should be an investigation.
"At this point, is it really conducive to democracy to have a president who is not held to account?" he asked. "That really is the situation that changes where we are now than where we've been for four years where we've seen the president engaging exact same conduct, but now there's something we can do about it."
Wallace cited a slate of people whose careers were destroyed because they said that Trump should be investigated. Now, she said, they look pretty smart for their warnings.
Weissmann said that when he read James Comey's book, he assumed it was hyperbole that he thought Trump was like a "mob boss," assuming that he wasn't serious. After four years, it has become clear, he said, that's exactly what Trump is.
"I mean it is chilling to hear on the tape, the president says to a sitting secretary of state of Georgia that, you know, essentially 'criminal things can happen to you,' and also 'this is going be bad for your career' and, 'remember, you're a Republican,'" Weissmann continued. "All sorts of things if he was actually had a good faith belief here you would never need to threaten any of that. You basically just go to reason and layout the actual facts."
There have been more than 60 lawsuits dismissed by judges from all over the country. Some were even judges that Trump appointed, begging the question of whether Trump called those judges and put pressure on them as well. Or if Trump put pressure on other officials in other states who didn't have their lawyers on the call or weren't recording it.
He noted that the lawyers on the call were interesting because they all seemed to be trying to shift Trump away from saying what he was saying. They're talking about procedural things that have nothing to do with what Trump demanded.
"That's not what the president asked for," he said. "The president says 'no, no that's not what we need,' actually cuts off his lawyers and says I want actually you to just find the [11,780] votes that will put me over the top. He's not doing this as a procedural issue of 'I just need to see the evidence -- what you looked for.' I actually think that, if you were going to investigate this, his lawyers could be quite damning witnesses against him, and similarly, I would think a good investigation would look to the Department of Justice to see what kind of pressure the president put on the department to do exactly what he was trying to do here in this phone call."
NBC News' John Heilemann said that he was grateful that Republicans in the Senate were supporting the "attempted coup" because it will force them to wear it around their necks for the rest of their careers, essentially destroying any possibilities they have at higher office.
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Trump's lawyers sure sounded different on that call than he did www.youtube.com