NAACP calls for Trump investigation in targeting of Black Georgia voters

EXCLUSIVE: Chairman Leon Russell says the president's attack on mostly Black counties is obvious and believes state laws have been violated.

Early voting continues in the state of Georgia for two U.S. Senate races as a cloud hangs over the state’s election process there. On Saturday, President Donald Trump allegedly committed voter and election crimes with an unprecedented and illegal request for Georgia election officials to change the state’s certified vote count.  

In the hour-long taped phone conversation, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said no, rebuffing the president’s request.

Raffensperger Trump
(Credit: AP Photo/Brynn Anderson and Getty Images)
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Read More: Georgia’s Brad Raffensperger ‘never believed’ Trump call was appropriate

With just weeks remaining in his term as president, Trump targeted Georgia’s Fulton County, a predominantly Black community that overwhelmingly voted for the Biden-Harris presidential ticket. On the call, Trump also went after super voter turnout strategist Stacey Abrams in his attempt to overturn the certified vote tally in the state of Georgia.

Democratic Georgia Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and Grammy-winning artist Common leads voters during a “Souls to The Polls” march in downtown Atlanta on October 28, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

The president asked that Georgia election officials “find 11,780 votes.” Trump’s far-reaching hope was that Georgia officials would help call into question his presidential election loss in that state. If officials would have agreed to the illegal request, it could further promote Trump’s unfounded claims of voter fraud. 

Democratic Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms in a text message criticized, “the current [Republican] Senators [who] have not denounced [President Trump’s] behavior.  

“They are complicit with their silence,” Lance Bottoms emphasized to theGrio. “In the words of Audre Lore, ‘your silence will not protect you!’”

Keisha Lance Bottoms
Mayor of Atlanta Keisha Lance Bottoms. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Essence)

Mayor Lance Bottoms called Trump’s latest actions, “crazy.” 

This presidential phone vote tampering call controversy was the trending topic on Twitter after it broke Sunday. On Twitter, veteran journalist Dan Rather compared the scandal to Watergate.

This matter has drawn the attention of many, including organizations like the NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights group, which is now calling for an investigation.

“There is an overall picture that has developed. Obviously, [President Trump] has targeted Black electorates. Places that are majority Black populations,” NAACP Board Chairman Leon Russell exclusively tells theGrio.

“Whether it is Detroit, Fulton County, Philadelphia, it is obvious he is going after Black voters. And that is more disenfranchisement and voter suppression.”

Read More: Did Trump break the law in leaked call with Georgia Secretary of State?

One of the major issues with the president’s election challenge is his focus on states where Black communities handed Joe Biden the presidency. 

When it comes to how to punish the president, Chairman Russell says his dream has been to see Trump in an “orange jumpsuit.” However, the civil rights group is calling for “investigations of what the president is doing.” Russell says the organization believes the president’s Saturday phone call “contains criminal content” and should be investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice. 

NAACP Board Chairman Leon Russell (Photo: Getty Images)

“We believe the U.S. attorneys in Washington D.C. and Fulton County, Georgia should be looking at this case. We believe there have been state laws that have been violated. District attorneys ought to look at this case as well, as the president tried to unlawfully influence the outcome of an election,” said Russell.

He added that it’s “probably a little late for a second impeachment,” but if President Trump had more time in office, he believes the investigation could lead to such a conclusion.

However, with only 16 days left until Biden’s inauguration that will likely not happen. In reality, the chairman hopes the investigation will result in Trump being “denied the possibility to run for office” as well as a “censure” from Congress.

As more details emerge about this weekend’s phone call, President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are in the state of Georgia trying to gain support for Republican Senate candidates Sen. David Perdue and Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who are in hotly contested runoff races against Democrats Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Raphael Warnock (left) and Jon Ossoff bump elbows during a Dec. 5 outdoor drive-in rally in Conyers, Georgia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

Atlanta Mayor Lance Bottoms believes Trump’s appearance in the state could be a benefit for the Democratic challengers.

“If Trump comes and doubled down on that craziness, I believe that will help Ossoff and Warnock,” she said, emphasizing “a lot of independents voted for Biden in November.”   

President-elect Biden is also in Georgia on Monday stumping for Democratic support for Ossoff and Warnock. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris was in the state on Sunday on behalf of the Democratic Senate candidates.  

Biden and Harris’s appearances in Georgia highlight what’s at stake in tomorrow’s runoffs, as it could shift the power structure in the U.S. Senate and critically shape legislation for the next couple of years for the incoming administration.

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