During a call that took place on January 2, 2021, President Trump pressured the Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger to help him overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state. In light of this recent development, a debate has arisen among the American people concerning whether the recording was legal or illegal.
Through the 1-hour call, the President can be heard making unsubstantiated claims about election fraud and asking Raffensperger to find 11,780 votes in order to tilt the Georgia election result in his favor. At one point, he even goes ahead and “threatens” Raffensperger with criminal prosecution if the secretary fails to carry out his wishes, an act that continues his assault on American democracy and can be considered as extortion.
Was The Phone Recording Legal According to Georgian Law
The legality of the recording depends on who conducted the recording. Georgia is a one-party state. This means it is legal for a contributor to a conversation to record the conversation without the consent of other contributors. Also, third parties not taking part in the conversation only need prior consent from one of the contributors to make a recording of the conversation. This means the recording was completely legal if it was conducted by either Raffensperger or President trump or by someone with consent from either Trump or the secretary.
The only instance where such a recording may be considered illegal is if the telephone conversation between the President and Raffensperger was intercepted by a third party, without the consent of at least one of the participants taking part in the conversation. If this is the case, Georgia law is clear that any evidence obtained in such a manner will NOT be admissible in any Georgian court.
Even if the conversation had taken place in a state where consent from all parties taking part in a conversation is required before recording a conversation(all-party consent state), more often than not, the law in such a state has caveats that allow the use of illegally recorded conversations as evidence if the recording evidences criminal activities, e.g., extortion, robbery.
Who Made The Recording?
While it is not clear who made and leaked the recording? We can deduce this from the events that took place on Sunday. In a Sunday morning tweet, President Trump referenced the telephone conversation with Raffensperger and claimed that the secretary of state could not answer his questions concerning alleged voter fraud.
Raffensperger responded to this by saying, “What you’re saying is not true. The truth will come out.”
From the above conversation, your guess is as good as mine. If Raffensperger recorded the conversation and leaked it to expose the truth, then the evidence from the call would be admissible in court if President Trump was to face prosecution.