Justice Department’s criminal probe now hits almost every effort to nullify 2020 election for Trump
Criminal prosecutors at the Justice Department are now examining almost every aspect of former President Donald Trump’s efforts to nullify the 2020 election – including conspiracy by fraudulent voters, efforts to push allegations of baseless voter fraud and how the money has flowed to support these various efforts – according to sources and copies. new subpoenas obtained by CNN.
The probe also extends into the cogs of Trump’s sprawling legal machine that spurred his efforts to contest his electoral loss – with many recipients of more than 30 subpoenas issued in recent days being asked to hand over the communications with several Trump attorneys.
The high-profile effort has many people in Trump’s world worried about the potential legal significance of being caught up in a federal investigation.
The flurry of investigative activity has involved seizure warrants, one of which was issued to Boris Epshteyn for his phone, according to several people familiar with the matter. Epshteyn remains a close associate of the former president and his political and fundraising operation.
The growing pool of subpoena recipients also includes prominent Trump lawmakers, like his former White House adviser Dan Scavino, who continued to work for Trump after leaving office.
The language and activity of the subpoena brings together the seemingly distant parts of the DOJ investigation.
The Justice Department had previously obtained grand jury testimony, conducted research, and recovered numerous documents about the rally’s organization and fundraising, about efforts in and around the White House to make pressure on then-Vice President Mike Pence to block the certification of election results, and on bogus voters. . This new set of subpoenas delves into more specific demands regarding baseless allegations of mass voter fraud that were being peddled to lawmakers, law enforcement and others.
In one of the new subpoenas seen by CNN, along with requests to communicate with a long list of prominent Trump figures and fake voters, investigators are asking for documents related to the raising and spending of money. Prosecutors are looking at the funding around the Jan. 6 rally, offers to challenge the results and the Trump-aligned political organization formed after the election to push the fraud allegations.
The assistant U.S. attorneys signing the subpoenas work as part of the team led by District Attorney Thomas Windom at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in DC, according to court records and several people familiar with the investigation. Two supervisors from the DC U.S. Attorney’s Office also appear on the subpoenas, saying the latest sweep serves both the ongoing bogus election investigation and the prosecution office’s broader mission to target pre-planning violence. on Jan. 6, according to the sources familiar with the team’s work.
The subpoenas also ask recipients to identify all methods of communication they have used since the fall of 2020 and to turn over to the DOJ anything that the House Select Committee investigating on January 6, 2021 demanded. – whether or not they cooperated with the House panel.
“They now encompass individuals increasingly close to the president to learn more and more about what the president knew and when he knew it,” David Laufman, a lawyer and former federal prosecutor, said Monday on “Erin Burnett OutFront from CNN.
There is no public indication that the DOJ’s January 6 investigation overlaps with the federal investigation into the handling of classified Trump White House documents and the seizure of Mar-a-Lago documents. However, the latest developments in the 2020 election investigation come as the investigation into the documents has already put Trump allies on high alert for possible legal exposure.
While those around Trump have called the congressional investigation into the Jan. 6 riot political, there is a palpable shift in behavior regarding the Justice Department investigation, as allies and advisers recognize the importance of being involved in a federal investigation. , according to several people in Trump’s orbit. World Trump figures now swept up in the investigation claim the department is participating in a fishing expedition that is hampering privileged communications.
“This is all very distressing to me as an American and as a prominent attorney for Donald Trump,” said Bruce Marks, an attorney whose communications are of interest to investigators, according to recently issued subpoenas.
Known for his leaks, a generally wordy Trump world has gone virtually silent following dozens of grand jury subpoenas issued in recent days. Some subpoenas have spent the past few days scrambling to find the right attorneys and understand the scope of what the Justice Department expects of them. Others, already entangled in other Trump investigations, know the drill – keeping quiet until the dust settles.
The burst of investigative activity came just as the Justice Department is running up against its so-called 60-day rule, an internal policy that discourages prosecutors from taking public action in cases that could influence an upcoming election.
Earlier, investigators were looking for records of interactions with a set of about a dozen Trump officials, mostly lawyers and people working with the fake voters, including Rudy Giuliani, Epshteyn and John Eastman.
But the latest subpoenas also seek communications with new names: Trump’s high-profile right-wing attorneys Sidney Powell and Cleta Mitchell, as well as Marks, a Philadelphia-based attorney who has helped with Trump’s campaign appeals and in a court case that draws attention. where Giuliani tried and failed to throw out all of Pennsylvania’s electoral votes.
Marks told CNN on Tuesday that he was among Trump’s post-election lawyers and reported and communicated frequently with Giuliani and Epshteyn via text and email about post-election efforts. Epshteyn was helping Giuliani in most of his attempts to block the outcome of the vote electing Joe Biden.
The warrant served on Epshteyn, looking for his phone, is another sign of the escalation of the investigation.
In June, the Justice Department seized the phone of Eastman, the Trump attorney who spearheaded the far-fetched legal theory that Pence could delay congressional certification of Biden’s victory. Federal investigators also that month searched the home of a former DOJ official, Jeffrey Clark, who was at the center of Trump’s efforts to pressure the department to support his plots.
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Prosecutors’ willingness to secure a warrant for Epshteyn’s phone hints indicates they view the campaign strategist — who is currently an adviser to Trump — as playing a critical role in Trump’s 2020 election machinations. seized and photographed his phone, they also served him with a subpoena for documents, according to some CNN sources.
Epshteyn did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment regarding the search for his phone. The New York Times was the first to report the seizure of his phone.
The wider net the department is now casting is also evident in the types of personalities in the Trump world who have received the latest round of subpoenas. They include former campaign manager Bill Stepien and Sean Dollman, who worked for Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign as chief financial officer, as well as Scavino, Trump’s former deputy chief of staff and an architect of presence. of Trump on social media.
Bernard Kerik, a former New York City police commissioner who worked with Giuliani to find evidence of voter fraud in the weeks following the 2020 election, also received a subpoena, as did Women for America. First, the pro-Trump group that organized the rally leading up to the attack on the Capitol.
Kerik was approached by a handful of officers who attempted to ask him questions, which he refused to answer and so they issued him a subpoena, a person familiar with the episode said. Officers asked him if he would speak with a lawyer present. Eventually, the officers gave him the document.