Prosecutors who are questioning witnesses before a grand jury — including two top aides to Vice President Mike Pence — have asked in recent days about conversations with Trump, his lawyers, and others in his inner circle who sought to substitute Trump allies for certified electors from some states Joe Biden won, according to two people familiar with the matter. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.
The prosecutors have asked hours of detailed questions about meetings Trump led in December 2020 and January 2021; his pressure campaign on Pence to overturn the election; and what instructions Trump gave his lawyers and advisers about fake electors and sending electors back to the states, the people said. Some of the questions focused directly on the extent of Trump’s involvement in the fake-elector effort led by his outside lawyers, including John Eastman and Rudy Giuliani, these people said.
In addition, Justice Department investigators in April received phone records of key officials and aides in the Trump administration, including his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, according to two people familiar with the matter. That effort is another indicator of how expansive the Jan. 6 probe had become, well before the high-profile, televised House hearings in June and July on the subject.
The Justice Department plans to prosecute anyone who was “criminally responsible for interfering with the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said Tuesday, speaking more expansively than he has previously about a federal criminal investigation that appears to have moved far beyond the rioters who attacked the Capitol.
In an exclusive interview with NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt, Garland said that the televised hearings by the House Jan. 6 committee highlighted “the truth of what happened…and what a risk it meant for our democracy.” And he acknowledged that Justice Department investigators learned things from the congressional testimony.
“Look, the Justice Department has been doing the most wide ranging investigation in its history,” he said. “And the committee is doing an enormously wide ranging investigation as well. It is inevitable that there will be things that they find before we have found them. And it’s inevitable that there will be things we find that they haven’t found. That’s what happens when you have two wide ranging investigations going on at the same time.”