The Justice Department’s criminal investigation into the January 6, 2021 riots at the U.S. 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, first reported by The Washington Postwas confirmed to CBS News by a US government official familiar with the investigation and a source familiar with what was presented by the Justice Department to a grand jury.
It’s not clear that Trump himself is the target of the investigation, only that prosecutors are asking questions about him and his aides.
Part of the investigation concerns efforts to swap voters won over Joe Biden in several battleground states for fake voters who backed Trump. Another examines the actions surrounding Jan. 6, when thousands of Trump supporters, many armed, stormed the Capitol on the day Congress was to count the ballots and declare Biden victory in 2020.
According to the source close to the grand jury witnesses, among the matters of interest to federal prosecutors are Trump’s discussions with law professor John Eastman, who hatched the plan to try to implicate Vice President Mike Pence in the attempt to keep Trump in power. , and the pressure on Pence, who presided over the counting of the ballots on January 6.
The news follows multiple law enforcement actions targeting those suspected of being linked to Trump’s attempts to stay in office, including the seizure of Eastman’s phone and the recent raid on the Virginia home of the former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark. Marc Short, Pence’s former chief of staff, testified before a Washington, DC grand jury last week under subpoena in connection with the investigation, a person familiar with the investigation confirmed to CBS News.
The Post’s report on the Justice Department probe was released Tuesday, hours after the former president returned to Washington, DC, for the first time since leaving at the end of his presidency in late January 2021. .
“I always say that I raced the second time and did much better”said at an event at the America First Policy Institute. “And you know what, this is going to be a story for a long time. What a shame that was. But you know what, we might have to start over.”
Theconsidered these issues separately in a series of eight public hearings. Among the information that has emerged is testimony from GOP Arizona House Chairman Rusty Bowers about a plan being undertaken by Trump and his allies to replace Arizona Biden voters with fake Trump voters. Bowers refused to participate in the plot, despite being pressured by Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.
The committee also uncovered an attempt to deliver fake Wisconsin election ballots to Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 6. Pence, urged by Trump and his allies to reject ballots from battleground states won by Mr. Biden, also declined to participate in the scheme.
Attorney General Merrick Garland spoke only generally about the investigation, reiterating in an interview on “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” Tuesday that the Justice Department ‘acted urgently to learn all we can about this period and to bring to justice all those who were criminally responsible for obstructing the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another’ .
He gave no indication that Trump, a former president, would receive 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 accountable everyone, anyone who was criminally responsible for the events surrounding January 6, for any attempt to interfere with the legal transfer of power from one administration to another, that is what we do. We pay no attention to other matters on this subject.”
Robert Legare contributed to this report.