Dozens of witnesses testify as January 6 grand jury investigates Trump

WASHINGTON — Federal grand jurors investigating Donald Trump’s attempts to halt the transfer of presidential power following his 2020 election loss have heard testimony from dozens of witnesses in a sweeping investigation that examined the conduct of the former president spanning from before Election Day until the Jan. 6 attack on the United States Capitol, according to an analysis by NBC News.

Special Counsel Jack Smith, appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland in November to oversee investigations into Trump’s handling of classified documents and his efforts to stay in power, has conducted a sprawling investigation in the nearly eight months since follow up.

While a grand jury in Miami indicted Trump on 37 counts out of seven federal charges in early June as part of the investigation into the documents and alleged efforts to obstruct him, a federal grand jury in Washington continued to meet on the third floor of the E. Barrett Prettyman US Courthouse in the 2020 election survey.

Smith was tasked with investigating any violations of the law as part of efforts to “interfere with the legal transfer of power following the 2020 presidential election or Electoral College vote certification” on 6 January, “as well as any questions that have arisen or may arise directly from this investigation.

Bringing charges against Trump as part of his speech at the Ellipse before the attack on the Capitol on January 6 was always going to pose a challenge. Trump’s words are protected by the First Amendment, and his rhetoric — telling people in the crowd that they “wouldn’t have a country anymore” if they didn’t “fight like hell” — could fit in with the realm of impassioned political rhetoric. Trump also explicitly told the crowd to walk “peacefully,” which would make the charges even more difficult.

Instead, Smith’s team investigated areas where there might be a clearer example of potentially illegal conduct. Witnesses called say the special counsel’s investigation focused in particular on the “fake voters” scheme in which fake voter lists from states Trump lost allegedly claimed he won. A total of 84 fake voters in seven swing states have signed documents falsely declaring Trump the winner.

Reporters and producers regularly camp out in the courthouse lobby, monitoring the staircase and elevators, trying to spot witnesses entering the grand jury area. Over the course of several months, Washington residents sitting on the grand jury heard testimony ranging from little-known campaign aides to Secret Service agents to the former vice president of the United States.

Mike Pence, the most high-profile witness to appear before the grand jury, testified in late April after a court order to comply with a subpoena, NBC News reported, just over a month before announcing that he was challenging Trump for president in 2024. Two of Pence’s aides who were with him on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 also testified before a grand jury last summer, before Smith was nominated. Pence’s former chief of staff, Marc Short, appeared in July 2022, according to a source familiar with his testimony, and multiple news outlets reported that Pence’s attorney Greg Jacob also testified; he declined to comment.

Earlier this month, NBC News reported that two of the “false voters” appeared before the Washington grand jury; their testimony came the same day Trump made his first court appearance in Miami.

Gary Michael Brown, the former deputy director of Election Day operations for the Trump campaign, also testified before the federal grand jury on June 22 and declined to comment to NBC News outside the courthouse. The Jan. 6 committee said last year it had found evidence that Brown was “aware of and participated in efforts to promote unsubstantiated allegations of fraud in the November 2020 presidential election and to encourage state lawmakers to alter the outcome of the November 2020 election by, among other things, naming lists of alternate voters to send competing electoral votes to the United States Congress The committee obtained a text message that Brown sent to other Trump campaign officials after he delivered the fake votes to Congress the day before the Jan. 6 attack, which included a selfie of him outside the Capitol.

The investigation began in earnest last year, around the time federal law enforcement officials from the Justice Department’s Inspector General’s Office searched the home of Jeffrey Clark, a former government official. MJ whom Trump was considering appointing acting attorney general despite his lack of experience in criminal law. . Court documents revealed officers were at Clark’s home investigating potential charges of misrepresentation, criminal conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

Federal agents also seized the phones of four key promoters of Trump’s stolen campaign claims: MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, who had his phone seized from a drive-thru in Hardee; John Eastman, the Trump-aligned lawyer who pushed the discredited theory that Pence had the power to refuse to certify the election; Boris Epshteyn, a longtime Trump adviser who was part of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s legal efforts to overturn the election results; and Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., who helped connect the White House to Clark.

In September 2022, before Smith took over the investigation, the Justice Department issued around 40 subpoenas, including to former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who also worked with the Giuliani’s legal team, and to Epshteyn, who recently met with the special counsel for two. days, ABC News reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. Epshteyn did not respond to a request for comment on his reported appearance.

After Smith took over in November, his team subpoenaed officials in Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and Pennsylvania, asking them for communications with or involving Trump, his campaign and 19 Trump associates, including Eastman. , Giuliani, Justin Clark, Sidney Powell and Jenna Ellis.

Giuliani has spoken with members of Smith’s special advocate team in recent weeks, as CNN first reported. Robert Costello, Giuliani’s attorney, did not respond to NBC News’ request for comment, but a spokesman, Ted Goodman, confirmed that Giuliani and Costello met with Smith’s team on a “fully deliberate”.

Others who have testified before the federal grand jury, received subpoenas, or spoken to investigators about January 6 and efforts to stop the peaceful transfer of power include:

  • Former White House attorneys Patrick Philbin and Pat Cipollone, who were due to testify in September and were spotted at the courthouse in December. Both men testified before the committee on Jan. 6, saying they opposed Eastman’s plan to have Pence refuse to certify the election because it was not legal.

  • Former Trump White House officials Stephen Miller and Dan Scavino, who were seen leaving the courthouse on May 2.

  • Former Department of Homeland Security official Ken Cuccinelli, who told NBC News he testified, and former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, according to an ABC News report citing people familiar with the matter. A spokesperson for Ratcliffe did not respond to a request for comment seeking to confirm Ratcliffe’s appearance before the grand jury.

  • “Stop the Steal” leader Ali Alexander, whose group organized the rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol on January 6. Alexander confirmed on social media last June that he testified before a federal grand jury.

  • Former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, according to CNN. Gingrich, who suggested in an email cited by the committee on Jan. 6 that Trump might encourage Republican-led legislatures to refuse to send voters to certify his loss, did not respond to a request for comment from Gingrich. NBC News.

  • Steve Bannon, who was convicted of two counts of contempt of Congress last year and sentenced to four months in federal prison, received a grand jury subpoena for testimony and documents in late May.

  • About half a dozen Secret Service agents, who also testified before the federal grand jury, according to two sources familiar with their testimony.

  • Former Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, a Republican who testified before the Jan. 6 committee about his refusal to support the fake voters agenda, has spoken to federal prosecutors. The special advocate also subpoenaed the office of the Arizona Secretary of State.

  • Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, whom Trump asked to simply “find 11,780 votes”. Raffensperger spoke with investigators from Smith’s office on June 28.

Hurry up. Any impeachment stemming from such a large investigation would be complex, and the 2024 Republican presidential primary is well underway.

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