"A series of crimes": Ex-prosecutor says new Trump election texts "more damning" than Georgia call

Trump-linked operatives discussed using data from a voting breach in attempt to decertify 2021 Georgia Senate race

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Staff Writer

Published April 24, 2023 11:15AM (EDT)

Former President Donald Trump speaks to guests at the 2023 NRA-ILA Leadership Forum on April 14, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Former President Donald Trump speaks to guests at the 2023 NRA-ILA Leadership Forum on April 14, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Two men hired by former President Donald Trump's legal team discussed a plot to use data obtained from a breached Georgia voting machine as part of an attempt to decertify the state's 2021 U.S. Senate run-off election, according to CNN

Jim Penrose, a former National Security Agency official who worked alongside Trump attorney Sidney Powell to access voting machines in Coffee County, Georgia, communicated with Doug Logan, CEO of a firm that allegedly runs audits of voting systems.

"Here's the plan. Let's keep this close hold," Penrose wrote. "We only have until Saturday to decide if we are going to use this report to try to decertify the Senate run-off election or if we hold it for a bigger moment," Penrose added, referring to a potential lawsuit related to the impending confirmation of Democrat Jon Ossoff's triumph in the runoff. 

CNN reported that the texts reveal the first instance in which Trump sympathizers contemplated using the data to overturn elections beyond the 2020 presidential race.

Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis is leading a criminal investigation into the scheme to breach voting systems. Willis has subpoenaed several individuals in connection to the probe, including Powell and former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani. She has also subpoenaed both Penrose and Logan over their involvement in the Georgia runoff breach. CNN also reported that Willis' office is considering a potential racketeering case against multiple defendants.

Former prosecutor Michael Zeldin told CNN that the report suggests violations of multiple state and federal laws.

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"What we have here is unauthorized access to this privileged computer data," Zeldin said. "There is a conspiracy to acquire and improperly distribute that data. There is probably a crime of interfering with the rights of the people of Georgia to have a free and fair election. And this is a series of crimes, a pattern of criminal activity, then it could possibly violate the Georgia RICO statute, which criminalizes a series of criminal activities by the same person or group of persons, so there's a lot at stake here." 

Zeldin also said that the texts between Penrose and Logan are "more damning" than Trump's phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which Trump suggested that Raffensperger could "find" the 11,780 votes needed to flip the state election in his favor.

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Gabriella Ferrigine is a staff writer at Salon. Originally from the Jersey Shore, she moved to New York City in 2016 to attend Columbia University, where she received her B.A. in English and M.A. in American Studies. Formerly a staff writer at NowThis News, she has an M.A. in Magazine Journalism from NYU and was previously a news fellow at Salon.

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Aggregate Donald Trump Fani Willis Politics Rudy Giuliani Sidney Powell