April 1, 2022
Federal prosecutors have substantially widened their January 6 investigation to examine the possible culpability of a broad range of figures involved in former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, reports The New York Times.
The investigation now encompasses the possible involvement of other government officials in Trump’s attempts to obstruct the certification of President Biden’s Electoral College victory and in the push by some Trump allies to promote slates of fake electors, they said.
Prosecutors also are asking about planning for the rallies that preceded the assault on the Capitol, including the rally on the Ellipse on January 6, 2021, just before a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol.
The federal investigation initially focused largely on the rioters who had entered the Capitol—an effort that has led to more than 700 arrests. But the Justice Department appears to have moved into a new phase, seeking information about people more closely tied to Trump. This development comes amid growing political pressure on Attorney General Merrick Garland to move more aggressively on the case.
A grand jury sitting in Washington is investigating the rallies that preceded the storming of the Capitol, a person familiar with the matter told the Times.
One of the subpoenas, which was reviewed by The New York Times, sought information about people “classified as VIP attendees” at Trump’s January 6 rally. It also sought information about members of the executive and legislative branches who had been involved in the “planning or execution of any rally or any attempt to obstruct, influence, impede, or delay” the certification of the 2020 election.
And it asked about the effort by Trump supporters to put forward alternate slates of electors as Trump and his allies were seeking to challenge the certification of the Electoral College outcome by Congress on January 6.
Another person briefed on the grand jury investigation said at least one person involved in the logistics of the January 6 rally had been asked to appear.
In pursuing January 6 cases, prosecutors have been assembling evidence documenting how defendants have cited statements from Trump to explain why they stormed the Capitol. And prosecutors have cited in some cases a Twitter post from Trump weeks before January 6 exhorting his followers to come to Washington—a call that motivated extremist groups, in particular.
The expanded criminal inquiry is unfolding just as a separate investigation by the House select committee on the Capitol riot is gathering evidence about Trump’s efforts to hold onto power and weighing the possibility of making a criminal referral of Trump to the Justice Department.
On Monday, March 28, a federal judge in California, in a civil case involving the House committee, concluded that Trump likely engaged in criminal conduct, including obstructing the work of Congress and conspiring to defraud the United States.
Attorney General Garland has given little public indication of whether the Justice Department would consider prosecuting Trump, saying only that the department will follow the facts wherever they lead.
The House committee’s investigators, like the federal prosecutors, also have been interested in the planning and financing of the January 6 rally on the Ellipse and key figures involved in it. Ali Alexander, a prominent figure in the pro-Trump “Stop the Steal” movement and an organizer of the rally, has been cooperating with the House committee. Alexander marched to the Capitol from the rally with Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist and Infowars host.
The House panel has also been seeking information from Amy Kremer, the chairwoman of Women for America First, which helped plan the rally.
According to the Times, the committee has also sent subpoenas seeking information to Katrina Pierson, Trump’s former national campaign spokeswoman; Kylie Jane Kremer, the daughter of Amy Kremer and the director of Women for America First; Lyndon Brentnall, the owner of a Florida-based security company who was the “on-site supervisor” for the rally; Maggie Mulvaney, a niece of the former top Trump aide Mick Mulvaney who is listed on the permit for the event; Megan Powers, an operations manager; and Tim Unes, whose company was listed as the stage manager for the gathering.
The criminal charges against rioters so far have ranged from misdemeanors to obstructing Congress in its duty to certify the Electoral College result. The Justice Department also has lodged conspiracy charges against leaders of two of the extremist groups who figured prominently in the Capitol attack, the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys.
Research contact: @nytimes