President Donald Trump is facing a string of calls for a second impeachment after a phone call to Georgia‘s election chief pressuring him to overturn his election defeat was released over the weekend.
The call has sparked an immediate widespread backlash from lawyers, politicians, and members of the public, with many saying his actions warrant a second impeachment before Mr Trump leaves office.
Democratic New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was among those quick to criticise the president, saying that he should be “quickly” sanctioned for the incident.
“I absolutely think it’s an impeachable offence, and if it was up to me, there would be articles on the floor quite quickly,” AOC said as the new session of Congress opened.
However, the progressive lawmaker was far from the only politician to hit out at the president in the hours following the release of the conversation.
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin described the tape as “more than a pathetic rambling, delusional rant” which “merits nothing less than a criminal investigation,” he said on Sunday.
Georgia Democratic Lawmaker Hank Johnson also insisted that the recording marks “a violation of state and federal law”, outlining his plans to “introduce a resolution of Censure” against the president.
The backlash comes only weeks before Mr Trump’s term in office draws to a close, with the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden set to take place on 20 January.
Social media users, political action committee’s and political watchdogs all expressed views that Mr Trump should not avoid legal action just because he has limited days left in office.
“Trump should obviously be immediately impeached and removed for the Georgia call, right? We’re just not pushing it because he’ll be gone in a couple of weeks?,” Political TV and radio show host, David Pakman, said.
Washington watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, echoed similar sentiments on Sunday, accusing the president of attempting to “rig a presidential election.”
The Lincoln Project, an Anti-Trump Republican Political Action Committee, called the “full 60-minute audio” of the tapes “Exhibit A of Individual 1 in his own words.”
During the shocking call, Mr Raffensperger and his officials told the outgoing president that Joe Biden’s 11,779-vote victory in Georgia was fair and accurate.
“There’s nothing wrong with saying, you know, um, that you’ve recalculated,” the president purortedly said in the call, telling Mr Raffensperger that he was taking “a big risk” in not pursuing his false claims.
Certain legal experts have branded the audio “potentially criminal” and insisted that the actions amount to an “impeachable offence”.
“Pressuring an election official to ‘find’ the votes so he can win is potentially criminal, and another flagrant abuse of power by a corrupt man who would be a despot,” congressman Adam Schiff, a lawyer who led the impeachment proceedings against the president, tweeted.
Representative Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, suggested that the president “may have also subjected himself to additional criminal liability.”
NBC’s legal analyst, Neal Katyal, said Mr Trump was “talking like a mafia boss” called on the Department of Justice to open an investigation into the conversation.
Republican Sen Susan Collins, who voted to acquit Mr Trump in the impeachment trial saying she believed “that the president has learned from this case” joined a bipartisan group of Senators in releasing a statement on the upcoming certification of results on Sunday.
“At this point, further attempts to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election are contrary to the clearly expressed will of the American people and only serve to undermine Americans’ confidence in the already determined election results.”
Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci described the scandal on CNN on Sunday as “rank lawlessness happening domestically” saying the president “needs to be impeached again.”
The reaction also comes just one day before two run-off elections are scheduled to take place in Georgia in a contentious battle to decide which party takes control of the Senate.
Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock will face Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in two elections on 5 January after no clear winner was determined in the races in November.
Democrats need to secure both seats in the election to tie with Republican incumbents, giving Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris the deciding vote whenever there is a 50-50 tie in the Senate.
The White House, the Trump campaign and Mr Raffensperger’s office did not respond to requests for comment on Monday regarding the recorded phone conversation.