The Justice Department’s criminal investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021 riots at the US Capitol now includes questions for witnesses about communications from people close to then-President Donald Trump and his re-election campaign, CBS News has confirmed.
This news, reported for the first time The Washington Postwas confirmed to CBS News by a US government official familiar with the investigation and a source with knowledge of what the Justice Department has presented to a grand jury.
It is not clear that Trump himself is a target of the investigation, only that prosecutors are asking questions related to him and his aides.
Part of the investigation concerns efforts to swap voters won by Joe Biden in several battleground states for fake voters who supported Trump. Another is examining actions around Jan. 6, when thousands of Trump supporters, many armed, stormed the Capitol on the day Congress was supposed to count ballots and declare Biden’s 2020 victory.
According to the source close to the grand jury testimony, among the topics of interest to federal prosecutors are Trump’s discussions with law professor John Eastman, who devised the plan to try to implicate Vice President Mike Pence in the attempt to keep Trump in power. , and the pressure exerted on Pence, who presided over the counting of electoral ballots on January 6.
The news follows multiple actions by law enforcement targeting those allegedly linked to Trump’s attempts to stay in power, including the seizure of Eastman’s phone and the recent raid on the Virginia home of former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark. Marc Short, Pence’s former chief of staff, testified before a grand jury in Washington, D.C., last week under subpoena as part of the investigation, a person familiar with the investigation confirmed to CBS News.
The Post’s report on the Justice Department’s investigation was released Tuesday, hours after the former president returned to Washington, D.C., for the first time since he left at the end of his presidency in late January 2021 .
“I always say I ran the second time and I did a lot better,”he said at an event at the America First Policy Institute. “And you know what, that’s going to be a story for a long time. What a shame it was. But you know what, we might have to do it again.”
Thehas examined these matters separately in a series of eight public hearings. Among the information that has emerged is testimony from Arizona GOP House Speaker Rusty Bowers about a plan by Trump and his allies to replace Arizona Biden voters with fake Trump voters. Bowers refused to participate in the plot, despite pressure exerted on him by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
The committee also uncovered an attempt to deliver fake Wisconsin ballots to Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 6. Pence, urged by Trump and his allies to reject ballots in battleground states won by Mr. Biden, also refused to participate in the scheme.
Attorney General Merrick Garland has only spoken broadly about the investigation, reiterating in an interview with “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” Tuesday that the Department of Justice has “moved with urgency to learn everything we can about this period and bring to justice all those criminally responsible for interfering with the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another.”
He gave no indication that Trump, a former president, would receive any special consideration given that status, as well as the possibility of him running again.
“We pursue justice without fear or favor,” Garland replied. “We intend to hold everyone accountable, anyone who was criminally responsible for the events of January 6, for any attempt to interfere with the legal transfer of power from one administration to another, responsible, that’s what we do. We pay no attention to other matters about it.”
Robert Legare contributed to this report.
Assault on the United States Capitol