Posts tagged with "CNN"

Trump falsely claimed in deposition that Carroll spoke about enjoying rape

January 17, 2023

Former President Donald Trump used a sworn deposition in a case brought by his sexual assault accuser E. Jean Carroll to continue calling her a liar and to claim she is mentally ill—denying that he sexually assaulted her even as he falsely claimed Carroll said in a CNN interview that she enjoyed being raped.

In rambling and combative testimony during an October 2022 session at Mar-a-Lago, Trump reiterated past claims he didn’t know Carroll, except as an adversary in what he termed “hoax” litigation, and said she was a “nut job” who was fabricating the story altogether, reports The Washington Post.

“I know nothing about her,” he said in response to questions from Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan, according to court documents unsealed Friday. “I think she’s sick. Mentally sick.”

The former president twisted Carroll’s comments from a June 2019 interview with CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, in which she said she shied away from calling her alleged encounter with Trump a “rape” because the word “has so many sexual connotations” and is a “fantasy” for many.

“I think most people think of rape as being sexy,” she told Cooper, according to a transcript of the interview, explaining that she instead thinks of her alleged attack as a “fight.”

Trump cited the interview in telling Kaplan that Carroll “loved” sexual assault.

“She actually indicated that she loved it. Okay?” Trump said in the deposition. “In fact, I think she said it was sexy, didn’t she? She said it was very sexy to be raped.”

Kaplan then asked: “So, sir, I just want to confirm: It’s your testimony that E. Jean Carroll said that she loved being sexually assaulted by you?”

And Trump answered: “Well, based on her interview with Anderson Cooper, I believe that’s what took place.”

Carroll, an author and advice columnist, publicly accused Trump in 2019 of raping her in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman in the mid-1990s. She has a pair of pending lawsuits against him in federal court in Manhattan—the first for alleged defamation over comments by Trump in 2019 trashing her and her account, and the latter over the alleged sexual assault itself.

Trump has denied knowing Carroll at all, even though he was photographed with her and her then-husband at an event decades ago.

On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan rejected a bid by Trump’s attorneys to dismiss Carroll’s sexual assault lawsuit, which was filed under a New York law that lets sexual assault victims sue years later.

Trump lawyer Alina Habba said she will appeal the judge’s decision not to toss out the newer case. A spokesman for Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign declined further comment.

The D.C. Court of Appeals is considering whether the Justice Department can represent Trump as a federal employee, a long-running legal dispute that has been heard by various courts and could effectively put an end to the defamation claims. Kaplan has scheduled an April trial date for both lawsuits.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Special counsel Jack Smith slaps Rudy Giuliani with grand jury subpoena

January 11, 2023

Special counsel Jack Smith’s team has subpoenaed Donald Trump’s former attorney Rudy Giuliani—asking him to turn over records to a federal grand jury as part of an investigation into the former president’s fundraising following the 2020 election, reports CNN.

The subpoena, which was sent more than a month ago and has not been previously reported, requests documents from Giuliani about payments he received around the 2020 election, when Giuliani filed numerous lawsuits on Trump’s behalf contesting the election results, a person with knowledge of the situation told CNN.

Prosecutors also have subpoenaed other witnesses who are close to Trump, asking specifically for documents related to disbursements from the Save America PAC, Trump’s primary fundraising operation set up shortly after the 2020 election.

Taken together, the subpoenas demonstrate prosecutors’ growing interest in following the money after the 2020 election as part of their sweeping criminal probe around Trump’s efforts to overturn his loss of the presidency.

Save America was part of broader fundraising efforts by Trump and the Republican Party that raised more than $250 million after the election. Since then, the political action committee has compensated several lawyers who now represent Trump and his allies in January 6-related investigations.

The subpoenas to other witnesses in addition to Giuliani were sent in late December, according to other sources. The information that the prosecutors are seeking still is being collected, the sources said. With Giuliani, the investigators have prioritized getting financial information from him, one person said.

The inquiry to Giuliani came from David Rody, a former top prosecutor in New York who specializes in gang and conspiracy cases and is assisting Smith with examining a broader criminal conspiracy after the election, according to some of the sources.

In response to being informed of CNN’s reporting on Giuliani’s subpoena and asked for a statement, Ted Goodman, his adviser, said, “The mayor is unaware of the specific claims by this so-called ‘anonymous source,’ and therefore is not in position to respond.”

A spokesperson for the special counsel’s office declined to comment and a representative for Trump has not responded to a request for comment.

CNN previously reported that the Justice Department in September subpoenaed witnesses for financial details about the Save America PAC, and that a portion of Smith’s office would dig into possible financial and campaign contribution crimes. The Giuliani subpoena and other December subpoenas represent a new round of inquiry, now from Smith’s office, which took shape over the holidays.

After the election, Trump and the Republican National Committee raked in millions of dollars as they told supporters the election was being stolen, marketing the fundraising effort as election defense. At the time, some officials working on the fundraising effort knew that Joe Biden’s electoral win was legitimate, despite Trump’s insistence it was fraudulent, the House Select Committee found in its own investigation.

Giuliani is likely to be a central figure in any probe of Trump’s close political circles after the election. After serving as Trump’s private attorney during the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, the former chief federal prosecutor and mayor of Manhattan dove into Trump’s attempts to claim electoral victory. He unsuccessfully argued a case before a federal judge in Pennsylvania—where Trump sought to throw out the popular vote—and connected with state lawmakers as he tried to convince them of election fraud.

In the weeks after the 2020 election, Giuliani also held freewheeling press conferences, repeating allegations that he never could prove.

In addition to the financial inquiry, Smith’s office is pursuing possible criminal cases around the Trump campaign’s use of fake electors in battleground states; and the pressure on Congress and then-Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the election’s result. In all of those schemes, Giuliani was a central player.

In his House select committee testimony, Giuliani explained that his team working with Trump pivoted to focus on state legislatures that could block the election result after his attempts failed in the courts. The New York state bar suspended him from practicing law because of his 2020 election efforts, and he’s also facing an attorney discipline proceeding in Washington, DC.

He declined to answer some questions the House asked about his work for Trump after the election, citing attorney confidentiality. Giuliani could try to make similar claims in the federal investigation, although the Justice Department has legal mechanisms with which it can try to overcome witness refusals to answer questions.

Research contact: @CNN

Nassau County D.A. Donnelly opens investigation into George Santos

December 30, 2022

On December 28, Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly (R) in New York State announced that she would open an investigation into Representative-elect George Santos (R), whose surprise victory in November was quickly followed by revelations that he lied about his business experience, educational background, and family ancestry, reports The Washington Post.

Donnelly said in a statement: “The numerous fabrications and inconsistencies associated” with Santos “are nothing short of stunning.” The residents in the congressional district “must have an honest and accountable representative in Congress” and “if a crime was committed in this county, we will prosecute it.”

Donnelly’s spokesperson, Brendan Brosh, said in a statement, “We are looking into the matter.”

In November, Santos won an open congressional seat on Long Island held by a Democrat. With that victory, Santos made headlines as the first non-incumbent who is an openly gay Republican to be elected to Congress. He also falsely described himself as Jewish and a fantastically successful businessman.

Days after an explosive story ran in The New York Times on December 19, detailing lies Santos told about his background, Santos gave a handful of interviews in which he acknowledged that he was untruthful about having worked at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, and having graduated from Baruch College. He said he never claimed to be Jewish, despite previous public comments about what he now characterizes as his “Jew-ish” heritage.

Also unclear is the exact source of the $700,000 Santos claimed to have loaned to his campaign in 2022—just two years after filing a financial disclosure report during an unsuccessful 2020 congressional run that stated he had no major assets or earned income.

Santos and his representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

News of the investigation came as another detail in Santos’s biography unraveled on Wednesday. During his 2020 congressional race, he told a dramatic story on a podcast about how a prestigious private school he attended refused to help his financially struggling family months before his graduation.

In the October 2020 interview, which resurfaced on social media Wednesday, Santos, referring to his parents, said: “They sent me to a good prep school—which was Horace Mann Prep in the Bronx. And in my senior year of prep school, unfortunately, my parents fell on hard times.” Santos went on to say that, at the time, his family couldn’t “afford a $2,500 tuition” and “I left school [with] four months till graduation.”

However, a spokesperson for the Horace Mann School since has told the Post that the school has no record of Santos attending the institution.

After contacting the school and providing them with several variations of Santos’s name that he has used in public, Ed Adler, a spokesman for Horace Mann, wrote in an email, “George Santos or any of the aliases you [cite] never attended HM.”

Some Democrats have called for Santos not to be seated as a member of Congress next week. House Republican leaders have largely remained silent about the matter, as Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-California) seeks enough votes to become House Speaker when Republicans take control of the chamber when the new term begins Tuesday, January 3.

Members of the House Equality Caucus, which focuses on issues facing the LGBTQ community, said in a statement Wednesday that Santos “does not deserve” to be in Congress and urged him to “step down immediately”—pointing to his unsupported claim that four of his employees were killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando in 2016. Santos later said on WABC that the four people “were going to be coming to work” at his company. He did not elaborate in the interview, nor respond to inquiries from the Post about this.

Bruce Blakeman—the executive of Nassau County—told CNN on Wednesday that Santos needs to address the “emotional issues” that led to his lying. “A normal person wouldn’t do that,” said Blakeman, a Republican.

On Wednesday night on Twitter, Santos ignored the latest developments, but said he is looking forward to working in Congress.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Philadelphia is launching a plant-based cream cheese

December 7, 2022

Philadelphia Cream Cheese is launching a non-dairy version of its signature spread.The plant-based cream cheese is available now at grocery stories in Atlanta, Houston, Miami and other locations in the Southeast, with a wider rollout planned for Summer 2023, reports CNN.

The new variety is made with coconut oil and faba bean protein, among other ingredients, and is designed to mimic the experience of eating traditional cream cheese.

Philadelphia’s non-dairy cream cheese has a suggested retail price of $6.49, compared to $4.57 for traditional.

The brand’s owner, Kraft Heinz, has been focusing on driving growth by innovating within its powerhouse brands like Philadelphia, including by launching plant-based alternatives where the company sees room for growth.

“Plant-based has been outpacing the overall categories within all of dairy for quite some time,” said John Crawford, VP of Client Insights for Dairy at IRI.

But with consumers trading down to more affordable options in the face of high food inflation and concerns of a looming recession, pricey cream cheese made without dairy could be a hard sell.

Robert Scott, president of R&D at Kraft Heinz, said it took the company about two years to come up with the recipe for the plant-based Philly. The team focused on two major factors: Getting the product to melt and spread easily on toasted bread or a warm waffle, and making sure that it tastes like a dairy product—even if it doesn’t totally pass for regular cream cheese.

“Getting dairy notes in a plant base is hard,” Scott said, but he hopes consumers will notice buttery hints in the spread. “To get to butter … that’s a huge success metric,” he said, acknowledging that the dairy-free cream cheese “is not a taste match of the existing product.”

Scott said that many customers aren’t getting what they want out of the current lineup of plant-based cream cheeses, and that Philadelphia is offering a better alternative. According to data from IRI, only about 41% of households who buy plant-based cream cheese make a second purchase within the year.

But Kraft is not the only company working to make a tastier cheese alternative.

“There’s a lot of work that’s being done to try and improve the performance of plant based cheese,” said Crawford, pointing to Babybel as another dairy brand that has launched plant-based options.

Like its cohorts in the alternative meat space, Kraft is trying to reach a flexitarian consumer: someone who doesn’t avoid animal protein entirely, but occasionally wants a plant-based alternative. “There’s a big opportunity” there for Kraft, said Scott.

Research contact: @CNN

DOJ seeks to speak with Pence as part of January 6 investigation

November 25, 2022

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is seeking testimony from former Vice President Mike Pence for its investigation into Donald Trump’s attempts to stay in power after losing the 2020 presidential election, reports HuffPost.

Sources familiar with the matter confirmed the DOJ’s efforts to The New York TimesCNN, and ABC News on Wednesday, November 23. All reported that Pence, who has developed a fraught relationship with Trump after refusing to support his election fraud claims, is open to the request.

DOJ investigators reportedly contacted Pence before Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel―Jack Smith, who once led the public integrity section―to take over the probe last week. As of now, Pence has not been subpoenaed.

Although he is reportedly open to testifying before the DOJ, Pence has refused to participate in a similar investigation led by a House select committee, saying last week that Congress “has no right to my testimony.”

But that doesn’t mean that Trump is happy about it: Indeed, according to HuffPost, the former president may seek legal avenues to stop Pence from testifying by invoking executive privilege, which at the very least, could stall the DOJ’s efforts to convene with him.

Pence could be a key witness in the investigations into the efforts by Trump and his allies to subvert democracy, including a plan to create a fake slate of pro-Trump electors in several states Biden won in 2020, because of his close communications with the ex-president in the days leading up to January 6, 2021, when an angry mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol with Trump’s encouragement.

Pence detailed many of their exchanges in his recently released book, saying Trump summoned him to meet with attorney John Eastman, who then pressured Pence to block the electoral college certification process in Congress.

Wednesday’s news comes the week after Pence shared that he’s giving “prayerful consideration” to running for president in 2024―a race for which Trump already has announced his candidacy. Pence said there are “better choices” than Trump for president last week when asked if he’d be a good presidential candidate again.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Banksy unveils mural in Ukrainian town liberated from Russians

November 15, 2022

Renowned street artist Banksy has unveiled his latest artwork in an Instagram post— a mural in the liberated Ukrainian town of Borodianka, reports CNN.

The artwork shows a female gymnast balancing on a pile of rubble on the side of a building damaged by Russian strikes.

The graffiti artist posted three images of the piece Friday on social media, with a simple caption reading “Borodyanka, Ukraine,” using an alternative spelling for the town’s name.

Speculation had been mounting that Banksy was in the war-torn country after a series of murals appeared in Borodianka, located about 35 miles northwest of the capital, Kyiv.

One artwork, not officially claimed by the artist, depicted a man being flipped during a judo match with a little boy. Another showed two children using a metal tank trap as a seesaw.

Borodianka was hit particularly hard by Russian airstrikes at the start of the invasion of Ukraine in February, with many buildings reduced to piles of rubble by long-range attacks.

It was home to 13,000 people before the war, but most fled after Russia’s invasion. What was left of Borodianka, after intense shelling and devastating strikes, was then occupied by Russian forces, who moved in on February 28.

The town came back into Ukrainian control on control on April 1, and returning residents found their houses ransacked and shops pillaged with windows broken and contents stolen.

The letter “V”—a symbol used by Russia’s Eastern Military district in concert with the letter “Z,” an emblem for Moscow’s so-called “special military operation”—was found painted on buildings, vehicles and checkpoints.

The town has since been the focus of reconstruction efforts, with several tower blocks demolished as a result of damage caused by the fighting.

Research contact: @CNN

A beginner’s guide to Mastodon, the Twitter alternative that’s taking off

November 10, 2022

If you’ve heard the word, “mastodon,” a lot since Elon Musk took over Twitter in late October, here’s why: The extinct mammal is also the name of a relatively small, formerly little-known social network that has skyrocketed in popularity, as many Twitter users try it out as an alternative for connecting with others online, reports CNN.

Mastodon is a decentralized social network that enables users to join a slew of different servers run by various groups and individuals, rather than one central platform controlled by a single company like Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

While all of these social networks are free to use, Mastodon is also free of ads. It’s developed by a nonprofit run by German software developer Eugen Rochkov, who created Mastodon in 2016. The site is supported via crowdfunding, as well as by individuals and groups who operate servers.

Users have been fleeing Twitter for it in recent days—or at least seeking out a second place to post their thoughts online during a time when the much more well-known social network faces layoffs, controversial product changes, an expected shift in its approach to content moderation, and a jump in hateful rhetoric.

In a Mastodon post late on Sunday, November 6, Rochko said the social network gained 489,000 users in the less than two weeks, and now boasts over one million active monthly users. (For perspective, Twitter reported in July that it had nearly 238 million daily active monetizable users.)

“That’s pretty cool,” Rochko said of the milestone.

But while it can be exciting to seek out a new social network, it can be tricky, too. Mastodon and Twitter have some similarities, yet they’re quite different — both in how they work and how they’re operated. Whether you’re interested in leaving Twitter or just want to check out something new, read on to find out how to sign up and thrive with Mastodon.

Things are the same, but also very different

A lot of Mastodon’s features and layout (particularly in its iOS and Android apps) will look familiar to current Twitter users, with some slightly different verbiage. You can follow others, create short posts (there’s a 500-character limit, and you can upload images and videos), favorite, or repost other users’ posts, and so on.

Mastodon is quite different though, and the sign-up process, in particular, can trip up new users. That’s because it’s not as simple as opening an app or webpage and setting up a username and password. You also need to choose a server where your Mastodon account will live.

First, don’t panic: There is no technical knowledge required to sign up, but you will have to follow a few steps to create your account—and you may have to be patient, as the influx of new users has put a strain on many servers.

Go to this webpage, and, if you want to get started quickly, click the little drop-down menu that says “sign-up speed” and set it to “instant” to see servers you can sign up with right away.

Then, pick a server. There are general-interest servers such as mastodon.world; regional servers like sfba.social, which is aimed at people in the San Francisco Bay Area; and ones aimed at various interests, too (many servers review new sign-ups before approving them—such as by asking potential users why they want to join—so you may need to wait if you want to join one in particular).

You’ll also need to decide how you want to access Mastodon—on a smartphone, you will want to try the iOS or Android app, but there are also many other free and paid apps that will do the trick. On the web, I can access Mastodon via the server I’m signed up with.

Finding friends

One of the trickiest aspects of joining Mastodon could be finding people you know and discovering people you want to follow. In part, that’s because there are no algorithmically generated suggestions of who to follow, no scanning your contacts for people you know, and you may not know who among the people you follow on other social-media networks is already using Mastodon (or what handle they’re using if they’re already there).

Similar to Twitter, you can use hashtags on Mastodon to seek out topics and people (“#TwitterMigration” is currently popular for newcomers). There are also some tools you can use to find Twitter friends on Mastodon, such as Twitodon.

Once you’ve settled in with a server and a handful of people to follow, you’ll want to start reading others’ posts and posting yourself. You’ll quickly notice many subtle differences from Twitter. For instance, users’ updates are sorted chronologically, rather than algorithmically as they are on Twitter and many other social networks.

There also isn’t a Mastodon equivalent to Twitter’s quote-tweet feature, where you can repost another user’s post and append your own thoughts to it. The closest you can get is copying and pasting a link to a user’s post into a new post and adding your own comments—although anyone seeing your post will have to click that link if they want to understand what you’re talking about.

These differences aren’t bad, and some of them actually may be good: It can make posting on Mastodon feel a little less reactive than Twitter, which is great for anyone prone to getting fired up by other people’s social media posts. And many of the people trying out Mastodon seem ready for a change.

Research contact: @CNN

January 6 Committee returns with another public hearing on Wednesday, September 28

September 27, 2022

“If he is the nominee, I won’t be a Republican.” That’s how Wyoming GOP Representative Liz Cheney framed the danger of another Donald Trump presidency—vowing on Saturday, “I’m going to do everything I can to make sure he is not the nominee,” should he run again,” reports CNN.

Her pointed comments come ahead of what’s likely to be the final public hearing from the House select committee investigating January 6, 2021, before it releases its final report.

The 1 p.m. (EDT) start time on Wednesday is perhaps more calculated than meets the eye. Discussing the timing on CNN Sunday, Democratic Representative Zoe Lofgren noted, “In the past, Fox News does play our hearings if the hearing is in the daytime.”

“So that’s a factor in reaching an audience that is not watching CNN,” the California Democrat added.

As Cheney’s fate last month showed, the committee is up against the clock. Neither she nor Illinois Representative Adam Kinzinger—the only two Republicans on the panel—will be returning to Congress next year, when a possible House GOP majority could look much different

What will the committee present this week? Panel members are keeping this close to the chest.

“I think it’ll be potentially more sweeping than some of the other hearings, but it too will be in a very thematic—it will tell the story about a key element of Donald Trump’s plot to overturn the election,” Democratic Representative Adam Schiff of California told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” Sunday.

The chairman of the committee, Democratic Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, said last week, “We have substantial footage of what occurred that we haven’t used.”

Thompson also said there was “significant witness testimony that we haven’t used in other hearings,” calling it “an opportunity” to get it in front of the American people.

And, while Cheney said on Saturday she believes former Vice President Mike Pence has an “obligation” to speak with the committee, Lofgren was pessimistic on Sunday that the committee would hear from either the former President or former vice president.

“The vice president had said publicly that he thought he might want to come in, and so we were very encouraged by that. But since that time, his people have walked it back,” Lofgren said on CNN.

“And to be honest, given that select committees of this Congress—not just this select committee but all the select committees—exist only for the life of the Congress, if we were trying to get into a subpoena fight with either the former vice president or the former president, that litigation could not be concluded during the life of this Congress.”

One person who may be showing up for an interview in the coming weeks, though? Ginni Thomas. The House committee has come to an agreement with the conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, CNN first reported last week.

Research contact: @CNN

Something you shouldn’t miss in the New York lawsuit against Donald Trump

September 26, 2022

Amid the 200-plus page lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James against Donald Trump on Wednesday, September 21, one allegation comes bursting through: The former president is simply not as rich as he has long said he is, reports Chris Cillizza for CNN.

Consider the following

  • Trump estimated that his triplex unit in Trump Tower was more than 30,000 square feet and was worth $327 million at one point. The apartment, according to James’ suit, was 11,000 square feet. And she noted that no apartment in the history of New York real estate has ever sold for that sort of sum.
  • Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home was valued as high as $739 million, but should have been, according to James, assessed more in the $75 million range.
  • Trump’s property on Park Avenue was assessed in 2010 as worth $72.5 million, but Trump’s company claimed in financial statements that it was worth $292 million, the lawsuit stated.

It goes on like that, says Cillizza, but you get the idea: Time and again, according to James’ lawsuit, Trump vastly exaggerated the value of his properties in order to gain favorable loan terms on other properties – many of which he then made a profit on.

This would fit into a pattern in Trump’s life. “I mean, part of the beauty of me is that I’m very rich,” Trump told ABC way back in 2012. “So, if I need $600 million, I can put $600 million myself. That’s a huge advantage. I must tell you, that’s a huge advantage over the other candidates.”

Just before he started running for president, Trump released a “Statement of Financial Condition” from 2014 that said he was worth $5.8 billion. But when he announced his candidacy in 2015, he said that same statement put his net worth at $8.7 billion. “I’m really rich,” Trump said in his announcement speech. “I’m not doing that to brag. I’m doing that to show that’s the kind of thinking our country needs.”

A month after he entered the race, his campaign revised that estimate upward again. “Real estate values in New York City, San Francisco, Miami, and many other places where he owns property have gone up considerably during this period of time,” read a statement from his campaign. “His debt is a very small percentage of value, and at very low interest rates. As of this date, Mr. Trump’s net worth is in excess of TEN BILLION DOLLARS.”

It’s decidedly difficult to know exactly what Trump is worth because he has never released his tax returns or other detailed financial information that would allow us to make that determination.

Forbes, which closely tracks the wealth of the country’s richest people, said earlier this year that Trump is worth $3 billion—up from $2.4 billion during his final year as president.

As Forbes wrote in April:

“Donald Trump, master of reinvention, has a new title: tech entrepreneur. It’s a stretch for [Trump], who doesn’t even use email, preferring instead to scrawl notes in marker. But he doesn’t mind jumping into ventures in which he has little previous experience – and this gig should prove far more lucrative than the presidency. In fact, it has already boosted his net worth by $430 million.”

The reality is—and has always been—that Trump is very rich. But not nearly as rich as he has claimed to be. It is the prime example of the “truthful hyperbole” that Trump laid out way back in the late 80s in his book “The Art of the Deal.”

“People want to believe that something is the biggest, and the greatest, and the most spectacular,” he wrote. “I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration, and a very effective form of promotion.”

Research contact: @CNN

CNN exclusive: Mark Meadows has complied with DOJ subpoena in January 6 probe

September 16, 2022

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has complied with a subpoena from the Justice Department’s investigation into events surrounding the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, sources familiar with the matter have told CNN—making him the highest-ranking Trump official known to have responded to a subpoena in the federal investigation.

Meadows turned over the same materials he provided to the House select committee investigating the US Capitol attack, one source said, meeting the obligations of the Justice Department subpoena, which has not been previously reported.

Last year, Meadows turned over thousands of text messages and emails to the House committee, before he stopped cooperating. The texts he handed over between Election Day 2020 and Joe Biden’s inauguration, which CNN previously obtained, provided a window into his dealings at the White House, though he withheld hundreds of messages, citing executive privilege.

In addition to Trump’s former chief of staff, one of Meadows’ top deputies in the White House, Ben Williamson, also recently received a grand jury subpoena, another source familiar with the matter has informed CNN.

That subpoena was similar to what others in Trump’s orbit received. It asked for testimony and records relating to January 6 and efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Williamson previously cooperated with the January 6 committee. He declined to comment to CNN.

Meadows’ compliance with the subpoena comes as the Justice Department has ramped up its investigation related to January 6, which now touches nearly every aspect of former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss—including the fraudulent electors plot, efforts to push baseless election fraud claims and how money flowed to support these various efforts, CNN reported this week.

An attorney for Meadows declined comment. The Justice Department did not respond to CNN requests for comment.

As White House chief of staff, Meadows was in the middle of Trump’s efforts to overturn the election in the two months between Election Day and Biden’s inauguration. Meadows communicated with numerous officials who tried to find election fraud and pushed various schemes to try to overturn the election, according to text messages obtained by CNN that Meadows turned over to the House select committee.

Meadows also shared baseless conspiracy theories with Justice Department leaders, as Trump tried to enlist DOJ’s help in his push to claim the election was stolen from him.

After Meadows stopped cooperating with the House committee, Congress referred him to the Justice Department for contempt of Congress. DOJ declined to prosecute him for contempt earlier this year.

It’s not yet clear whether the Justice Department will seek more materials from Meadows as part of the ongoing criminal investigation, which could lead to a legal fight over executive privilege.

Following last month’s FBI search of Trump’s Florida residence and resort, the Ma-a-Lago Club, Meadows handed over texts and emails to the National Archivesv that he had not previously turned over from his time in the administration, CNN previously reported. Last year, Meadows spoke with Trump about the documents he brought to Mar-a-Lago that the National Archives wanted returned.

Trump has been counseled to cut contact with Meadows—and some of Trump’s attorneys believe Meadows could also be in investigators’ crosshairs and are concerned he could become a fact witness if he’s pushed to cooperate, CNN reported last month. Still, Trump and Meadows have spoken a number of times, according to a source familiar with their relationship.

Another source described their relationship as “not the same as it once was” while in the White House, but said they still have maintained a relationship, even as Trump has complained about Meadows to others.

Research contact: @CNN