A “biblical” mumber of 40 subpoenas have been issued by the DOJ to persons around Donald Trump’s Coup Plot – “tell us what you observed and what you heard.” They are not Trump lawyers, so no dilatory tactic of claiming attorney-client privilege (which is eviscerated by the crime-fraud exception in any event), and most were not high ranking advisors over whom Trump could possibly assert executive privilege claim. They are simply fact witnesses in the room or who have knowledge about what happened or was said.
The New York Times reports, Justice Dept. Issues 40 Subpoenas in a Week, Expanding Its Jan. 6 Inquiry:
Justice Department officials have seized the phones of two top advisers to former President Donald J. Trump and blanketed his aides with about 40 subpoenas in a substantial escalation of the investigation into his efforts to subvert the 2020 election, people familiar with the inquiry said on Monday.
The seizure of the phones, coupled with a widening effort to obtain information from those around Mr. Trump after the 2020 election, represent some of the most aggressive steps the department has taken thus far in its criminal investigation into the actions that led to the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.
The extent of the investigation has come into focus in recent days, even though it has often been overshadowed by the government’s legal clash with Mr. Trump and his lawyers over a separate inquiry into the handling of presidential records, including highly classified materials, the former president kept at his residence in Florida, Mar-a-Lago.
Federal agents with court-authorized search warrants took phones last week from at least two people: Boris Epshteyn, an in-house counsel who helps coordinate Mr. Trump’s legal efforts, and Mike Roman, a campaign strategist who was the director of Election Day operations for the Trump campaign in 2020, people familiar with the investigation said.
Mr. Epshteyn and Mr. Roman have been linked to a critical element of Mr. Trump’s bid to hold onto power: the effort to name slates of [fake GQP] electors pledged to Mr. Trump from swing states won by Joseph R. Biden Jr. in 2020 as part of a plan to block or delay congressional certification of Mr. Biden’s Electoral College victory.
The names of those receiving the latest round of subpoenas in the investigation related to Jan. 6 have dribbled out gradually, with investigators casting a wide net on a range of issues, including Mr. Trump’s postelection fund-raising and the so-called fake electors scheme.
One of the recipients, people familiar with the case said, was Dan Scavino, Mr. Trump’s former social media director who rose from working at a Trump-owned golf course to become one of his most loyal West Wing aides, and has remained an adviser since Mr. Trump left office. Stanley Woodward, one of Mr. Scavino’s lawyers, declined to comment.
Another was [convicted felon pardoned by Trump] Bernard B. Kerik, a former New York City police commissioner. Mr. Kerik, who promoted claims of voter fraud alongside his friend Rudolph W. Giuliani, was issued a subpoena by prosecutors with the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, his lawyer, Timothy Parlatore, said on Monday. Mr. Parlatore said his client had initially offered to grant an interview voluntarily.
The subpoenas seek information in connection with the fake electors plan.
For months, associates of Mr. Trump have received subpoenas related to other aspects of the investigations into his efforts to cling to power. But in a new line of inquiry, some of the latest subpoenas focus on the activities of the Save America political action committee, the main political fund-raising conduit for Mr. Trump since he left office.
The fact that the Justice Department is now seeking information related to fund-raising comes as the House committee examining the Jan. 6 attack has raised questions about money Mr. Trump solicited under the premise of fighting election fraud.
The new subpoenas encompass a wide variety of those in Mr. Trump’s orbit, from low-level aides to his most senior advisers.
The Justice Department has spent more than a year focused on investigating hundreds of rioters who were on the ground at the Capitol on Jan. 6. But this spring, it started issuing grand jury subpoenas to people like Ali Alexander, a prominent organizer with the pro-Trump Stop the Steal group, who helped plan the march to the Capitol after Mr. Trump gave a speech that day at the Ellipse near the White House.
While it remains unclear how many subpoenas had been issued in that early round, the information they sought was broad.
According to one subpoena obtained by The New York Times, they asked for any records or communications from people who organized, spoke at or provided security for Mr. Trump’s rally at the Ellipse. They also requested information about any members of the executive and legislative branches who may have taken part in planning or executing the rally, or tried to “obstruct, influence, impede or delay” the certification of the presidential election.
By early summer, the grand jury investigation had taken another turn as several subpoenas were issued to state lawmakers and state Republican officials allied with Mr. Trump who took part in a plan to create fake slates of pro-Trump electors in several key swing states actually won by Mr. Biden.
At least 20 of these subpoenas were sent out and sought information about, and communications with, several lawyers who took part in the fake elector scheme, including Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman.
Around the same time, federal investigators seized Mr. Eastman’s cellphone and the phone of another lawyer, Jeffrey Clark, whom Mr. Trump had sought at one point to install as the acting attorney general. Mr. Clark had his own role in the fake elector scheme: In December 2020, he helped draft a letter to Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, saying that the state’s election results had been marred by fraud and recommending that Mr. Kemp convene a special session of the Georgia Legislature to create a slate of pro-Trump electors.
At least some of the new subpoenas also requested all records that the recipients had turned over to the House Jan. 6 committee, according to a person familiar with the matter.
So the DOJ is quickly playing catchup to the January 6 Committee.
In an interactive visual essay by Steve Brodner at the Washington Post, Look! It’s the winged monkeys of the Wizard of Trump (screenshot above), Brodner breaks down Trump’s “flying monkeys” who were co-conspirtors in his seditious conspiracy, and accomplices or accessories to his criminal coup d’état on January 6, 2021. They should all serve long stints in prison:
A “big lie” needs a small air force working behind the scenes to divert, obfuscate and defend the absurd claim that Donald Trump won the 2020 election.
Trump’s acolytes in this effort worked in Washington and around the country, in government and the media, to perpetuate the fraud. They made up false stories, spread dubious claims and swarmed anyone who suggested that truth mattered in the land of make-believe.
The plotters behind the “big lie”
A circle of longtime Trump loyalists and eager recruits plotted between Election Day and the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol to block certification of Joe Biden’s victory.
[Convicted felon pardoned by Trump] Lt. Gen Michael Flynn, who served briefly as Trump’s national security adviser in 2017, pushed Trump to consider using the military to confiscate voting machines as part of a larger scheme to overturn the election.
John Eastman, [the Coup Memos lawyer] a conservative California lawyer who once clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, outlined a plan for Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the 2020 election results and pressured him to do so.
Mike Lindell, the MyPillow CEO turned [White Christian Nationalist and QAnon cultist] right-wing activist, spent $30 million trying to prove fraud in the 2020 elections and to promote various “election integrity” efforts.
[“Kraken”] Lawyer Sidney Powell filed multiple lawsuits in district courts after the election alleging voter fraud and raised more than $14 million to do so. A federal judge imposed sanctions on her for the baseless claims. [She is also facing disbarment.]
Lawyer Cleta Mitchell, an early promoter on social media of imaginary voter fraud, set out to recruit “Stop the Steal” activists to monitor election offices and work at polling places ahead of the 2022 and 2024 elections.
The fascist propaganda Breitbart brags, Exclusive: RNC Hits Multiple Election Integrity Milestones 2 Months Before Midterms (excerpt):
With two months until the election, the RNC has surpassed a significant milestone by having over 45,000 poll workers and poll watchers shifted in primary, general, and special elections so far this cycle. This increased by 12,000 poll watchers from July when Breitbart News reported about the RNC’s election integrity efforts with 100 days left in the cycle.
In addition, they have made over 85,000 unique volunteer engagements and have held over 3,500 Election Integrity trainings — also an increase of 20,000 unique volunteer engagements since July.
In addition, Pro-Trump activists swamp election officials with sprawling records requests (excerpt):
Pro-Trump operatives are flooding local officials with public-records requests to seek evidence for the former president’s false stolen-election claims and to gather intelligence on voting machines and voters, adding to the chaos rocking the U.S. election system.
The Maricopa County Recorder’s Office in Arizona, an election battleground state, has fielded 498 public records requests this year – 130 more than all of last year. Officials in Washoe County, Nevada, have fielded 88 public records requests, two-thirds more than in all of 2021. And the number of requests to North Carolina’s state elections board have already nearly equaled last year’s total of 229.
The surge of requests is overwhelming staffs that oversee elections in some jurisdictions, fueling baseless voter-fraud allegations and raising concerns about the inadvertent release of information that could be used to hack voting systems, according to a dozen election officials interviewed by Reuters.
Mark Meadows, Trump’s last White House chief of staff, assured concerned Republicans that Trump would eventually drop his claims on a second term. Meanwhile, he privately encouraged election deniers to keep fighting. He also fielded various election conspiracies from Trump activists.
Some media figures helped undermine public confidence in the 2020 election results and divert attention from the events of Jan. 6.
Fox News stars Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham promoted fake voter fraud stories and falsely suggested that left-wing antifa members organized the Jan. 6 insurrection while downplaying the involvement of Trump supporters.
Rupert Murdoch owns and runs News Corp. and Fox News. In March 2021, Dominion Voting Systems sued Fox News for defamation, arguing Dominion was harmed by the network’s decision to perpetuate baseless stories about the election.
Dinesh D’Souza wrongly claimed on Fox News that police used “massive amounts of force” on “unarmed Trump supporters” on Jan. 6. He also created “2000 Mules,” a film purporting to show evidence that the 2020 election was rigged; its claims have been debunked.
Stephen K. Bannon, a White House strategist, used his podcast to radicalize many of Trump’s supporters and later refused to testify before the House committee investigating Jan 6. He was convicted of contempt of Congress in July.
Election deniers in Congress
Some members of Congress who repeated the “big lie” have continued to advocate for tighter limits on voting in future elections.
[Howling monkeys] Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) were among the most active and inflammatory tweeters ahead of the Jan. 6 insurrection. Boebert tweeted about 1776 before the Capitol attack, which was seen as a possible call to armed revolution. Greene urged voters to cast multiple ballots in a Georgia congressional election.
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) replaced Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) as the House GOP Conference chair in part because of Cheney’s adamant denial of Trump’s “big lie” — and because of Stefanik’s embrace of it.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) falsely accused Democrats of rigging the 2020 election even before Election Day arrived. Following Trump’s loss, Jordan called for Congress to investigate the election.
[White supremacist] Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) inaccurately said at a Trump rally in January: “Was there fraud? Absolutely. Was it enough to overturn the election? Absolutely.”
‘Big Lie’ candidates
Some Republican candidates pulled much of their popularity from denying the 2020 election results.
Doug Mastriano, the Republican nominee for Pennsylvania governor, organized a post-election public hearing on voter fraud that Trump phoned into. Kari Lake, the Republican nominee for Arizona governor, called it “disqualifying” and “sickening” that a rival in the state’s GOP primary wouldn’t say the election was stolen — even though it wasn’t.
Mehmet Oz, television personality turned politician, has refrained from calling Biden’s victory “rigged” or “stolen,” but he has without evidence cast doubt on the credibility of absentee ballots and voter IDs.
J.D. Vance, the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in Ohio, shifted to the right to boost his chances, calling Biden a “fake president.”
Politicians obstructing voting
Three members of Congress — two Democrats and a Republican — played a leading role in sinking negotiations when Democrats tried to modernize the rules to reform federal voting rights legislation in response to Republican states curtailing voter access.
Democrat Sens. Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) joined all 50 Republicans to oppose a rules change that would’ve allowed for federal voting rights legislation to pass with 51 votes instead of the usual 60.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) organized Republican senators to oppose various voting rights bills that would’ve established minimum early voting requirements, vote by mail and automatic voter registration.
States undermining the electoral system
Two Republican governors took the lead on imposing voting restrictions. Legislatures in 18 states have passed 34 laws making voting harder since the start of 2021. Many of these states were pivotal to Biden’s victory in 2020.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed laws making it harder to vote by mail, restricting the use of drop boxes and implementing stricter voter ID requirements.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has banned drive-through voting, limited mail-in voting and invigorated partisan poll-watchers. Thousands of mail-in ballots in Texas were rejected ahead of the March 1 primary after the rules were enacted.
Some state legislatures had made it harder to vote. For instance, Georgia, imposed new ID requirements for mail-in ballots, limited the use of drop boxes and allowed electors to challenge the eligibility of voters; Iowa shortened the state’s early voting period and closed the polls an hour early on Election Day. Arizona was sued for a new law requiring proof of citizenship to vote.
Ahead of Jan. 6, Republicans in seven swing states sent [fake] Trump electors to Congress to delay certification of Biden’s victory in an effort to overturn the 2020 election results.
Trump’s allies are working to install “big lie” sympathizers in key election posts. These election board infiltrators are becoming election canvassing board members, local voting judges and inspectors, poll watchers and county clerks, often in swing states.