But the subpoenas show that the DOJ investigation, which has been going on behind the scenes for months and has led Trump critics to vent their frustration with Attorney General Merrick Garland, is much broader than meets the eye. thought so before. And it seems to be intensifying, with investigators apparently focusing on more subpoenas, evidence and testimony.
“That’s how the classic investigations are done, going up the chain, so to speak,” David Laufman, former head of the Justice Department’s counterintelligence and export control section, told Erin Burnett on Monday. from CNN.
“They now encompass individuals increasingly close to the president to learn more and more about what the president knew and when he knew it.”
The twice-impeached former president has generally managed to evade the judicial scrutiny and scandals that would have long since ended the careers of conventional politicians. But it’s clear he’s facing legal issues on multiple fronts, some related to his attempt to overturn the 2020 election result, and all in some way stemming from his view that as president , and even back in civilian life, his position granted him nearly unlimited power without scrutiny.
New indications of DOJ interest in post-election intrigue
News of more than 30 new subpoenas for documents and some for grand jury testimony suggests the DOJ is investigating a scheme to create fake voter lists to invalidate President Joe Biden’s victories in swing states. in 2020. There are also indications that prosecutors are looking into Trump’s fundraising operation and how the ex-president’s Jan. 6, 2021, “Stop the Steal” rally was organized, according to reports. new information reported by CNN, some of which was first revealed by The New York Times.
The flurry of subpoenas in recent days came just before a 60-day period of silence that the DOJ typically seeks to avoid appearing to influence the election with politically sensitive investigations. Midterm elections in November will decide the fate of the Senate and House of Representatives and multiple state and local offices. Trump, touting his false claims that he was illegally ousted from power in a fraudulent election, has been a key player in the 2022 campaign.
Among the Trump aides who have received subpoenas are his former campaign manager Bill Stepien and Sean Dollman, the campaign’s former chief financial officer, sources familiar with the matter told CNN. Former Trump deputy chief of staff and social media guru Dan Scavino also received a subpoena, according to a source familiar with the matter. None of the three men responded to requests for comment. Brian Jack, the last White House political director under Trump, was also subpoenaed, according to a source familiar with the matter. Jack also did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment.
The committee is expected to discuss whether to invite Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence to appear. Committee members do not expect either of the men to testify, sources said, but some believe they should be asked to testify given the extraordinary circumstances of the attempted former president to thwart the peaceful transfer of power after a democratic election.
This subplot also takes place amid an investigation in Georgia into alleged attempts to try to get local authorities to overturn Biden’s victory in the critical swing state.
Trump and DOJ exchange blows in classified documents case
All of those investigations have been overshadowed in recent days by another legal duel over Trump’s hoarding of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, which led to a protracted standoff with the DOJ and ultimately culminated in an FBI search of his property. last month.
Lawyers for the former president argued Monday in a new filing in the case that a judge should reject the DOJ’s attempt to continue reviewing classified documents as part of its criminal investigation. The department says the judge’s initial ban on doing so effectively prevents the intelligence community from assessing the potential harms of the former president’s seemingly lax handling of classified information and poses a serious national security risk.
In a typically expansive take on the office of president, Trump argued in a Monday filing that in his former position he had broad authority to declassify records and that a former president should have “absolute right of access.” to presidential records – whether they are classified or not. CNN reported that several former top national security officials dismiss the idea that the ex-president had some sort of scheme to declassify documents en masse. And even if he had, the Presidential Archives Act stipulates that presidential documents belong to the National Archives.
But in a bold move, Trump’s legal team sought to downplay the significance of the dispute.
“In what is at its core a document storage dispute that has spiraled out of control, the government wrongfully seeks to criminalize the 45th President’s possession of his own presidential and personal records,” Trump’s legal team wrote. to Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee who is presiding over the case as Trump seeks to have a third-party attorney known as a special master sift through the documents for questions of privilege.
Each of the Trump team’s claims is highly controversial and appears to conflict with most conventional readings of US law. The argument that Mar-a-Lago was a secure facility and the evidence was kept in a locked room appears to ignore the fact that some of the 100 documents taken by the FBI from Trump’s home carried the highest classification levels in the US government. and would normally only be allowed to be seen by a restricted level of officials in the most secure locations. And the Washington Post reported last week that secrets of a foreign country’s nuclear program were among the information the FBI had taken from its residence. This information would be among the most protected and restricted information in the possession of the government.
Trump’s arguments can come across as far-fetched in many cases. But they could also achieve what he wants – delaying any potential formal legal action against him for as long as possible by opening up even more appeals through the layers of the justice system.
In the case of the classified documents drama, that could mean the case extends well into the 2024 campaign, when Trump is expected to mount a bid to win back the White House. The former president has previously criticized the DOJ’s action as an example of political persecution, an accusation he would be certain to intensify during the heat of a presidential race.
But new indications Monday of the comprehensive nature of the investigations into the Jan. 6 preparedness raise the question of how long Trump can hold off multiple investigations stemming from his failure to come to terms with his 2020 loss.
Gabby Orr, Kristen Holmes, Sara Murray, Kaitlan Collins, Evan Perez, Katelyn Polantz and Zachary Cohen.