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A newly elected district attorney in Georgia is looking into potential racketeering charges against former President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, for his repeated false claims of election fraud, The New York Times reported.
Fani Willis, the district attorney in Fulton County, said the racketeering charge could be applied to anyone who makes overt acts using a legal entity for an illegal purpose. In this case, it would apply because the former president and his allies pressured Georgia officials to change the election outcome.
The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act was enacted in 1970 with the purpose of combatting organized crime. The act encompasses a wide array of offenses, including kidnapping, murder, and bribery. Broadly, racketeering refers to engaging in an illegal scheme.
“(Racketeering’s) not a specific crime – it’s a way of thinking about and prosecuting a variety of crimes,” G. Robert Blakey, a federal criminal law professor at Notre Dame University, told CNN.
RICO has mostly been associated with combatting organized crime, but Willis said when it comes to the election case, lawful organizations that break the law could also be considered racketeering.
“If you have various overt acts for an illegal purpose, I think you can — you may — get there,” Willis told the Times.
Giuliani repeatedly made baseless allegations about election fraud after President Joe Biden was declared the winner in the November election. Giuliani alleged that election technology companies Dominion and Smartmatic made software that flipped votes from Trump to Biden.
Last month, Dominion sued Giuliani for more than $1.3 billion in damages, accusing him of creating “a viral disinformation campaign about Dominion.”
The company cited more than 50 of Giuliani’s election fraud statements in their lawsuit.
Giuliani told the Georgia State Senate committee on December 3 that “there’s more than ample evidence to conclude this election was a sham,” and made additional false claims, the Times reported.
On December 30, he told the committee that 10,315 dead people voted, which officials found to be untrue. There were only two instances where ballots were cast with the names of people who had died, the Times reported.
Gabriel Sterling, the chief operating officer for Georgia’s secretary of state, also said that Giuliani lied and showed state senators an edited video that was meant to support his claims of fraud, Insider previously reported.
Prosecutors in the state have already launched a criminal investigation into Trump’s months-long efforts to overturn the election results.
Earlier this month, Willis sent a letter to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Gov. Brian Kemp, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, and Attorney General Chris Carr, to ask them to retain all sensitive materials relating to a phone call Trump made to Raffensperger in which he asked him to find enough votes to make him the winner of the state.
Giuliani did not reply to Insider’s request for comment at the time of publication.