It indicates that the Department’s investigation has reached the White House of former President Donald Trump and that investigators are looking at behavior directly linked to the efforts of Trump and his closest allies to reverse his election defeat.
Former Pence chief of staff Marc Short testified before a grand jury in DC on Friday, CNN has confirmed. Fellow Pence aide Greg Jacob has also testified in recent weeks, CNN has learned from a source close to the investigation.
The questions to Jacob and Short focused, among other things, on the fake voter scheme and the role of Trump lawyers John Eastman and Rudy Giuliani, the source said.
Short and Jacob both attended key meetings leading up to the January 6 uprising, which were part of a pressure campaign to convince Pence to disrupt Congressional certification of President Joe Biden’s election victory.
Short confirmed to CNN’s Erin Burnett Monday night that he complied with a grand jury subpoena, but declined to discuss details about his appearance. Short previously served in the House of Representatives for impeachment.
How to approach Trump in the Jan. 6 investigation was a delicate question for the Justice Department. The department has faced tremendous pressure from lawmakers, former prosecutors and others to focus on the ringleaders of the 2020 election reversal attempts. But any investigation into a former president raises a host of highly sensitive and potentially explosive political and legal questions.
That Pence’s inner circle is now being forced to cooperate with the investigation suggests that at least some of those obstacles have been removed.
In an interview with Lester Holt on “NBC Nightly News” on Tuesday, Garland said the DOJ would investigate any interference in the “lawful transfer of power.”
“I will say again that we will hold accountable anyone criminally responsible for attempts to interfere with the legitimate, lawful transfer of power from one government to another,” Garland said.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of two Republicans on the House selection committee, said Pence’s witnesses are a “positive” development.
Short, Kinzinger added, is a good resource.
“He certainly knows a lot about what happened, and I think under oath you can be pretty sure he’ll tell the truth,” the congressman said.
Witnessing inflection points in the print campaign on Pence
The Justice Department declined to comment on Short and Jacob’s grand jury subpoenas. But elsewhere investigations of Trump’s election-damaging scandals highlight the pertinent events witnessed by the two aides.
According to the House Selection Committee’s public presentations, Jacob attended a Jan. 4, 2021 Oval Office meeting with Trump and his attorney Eastman, during which Eastman discussed a plan to have Pence not count Biden voters. 6 certification ceremony.
Short also attended that meeting, and another meeting with Eastman and Jacob on January 5, where Eastman’s drive to have Pence disrupt the certification was discussed for another two and a half hours.
“What surprised me most about that meeting was that when Mr. Eastman walked in, he said, ‘I’m here to ask you to turn down the voters,'” Jacob said at a House committee hearing in June. while referring more to a proposal. more aggressive than what Eastman had recommended at the January 4 meeting. Jacob also took notes commemorating Eastman’s claim, according to the committee.
Jacob recalled that at one of those meetings Eastman acknowledged that such a maneuver would violate the Electoral Count Act, with Jacob testifying that Eastman believed the law was unconstitutional. Jacob also described a conversation with Eastman in which Eastman admitted that no Supreme Court judge would support his position.
“The illegality of the plan was clear,” Carter wrote. “Our nation was founded on the peaceful transfer of power, epitomized by George Washington laying down his sword to make way for democratic elections. President Trump ignored this history and campaigned vigorously for the vice president to single-handedly review the results of the election of 2020 to be determined.”
Other Signs the DOJ Investigation Has Escalated
While Jacob and Short’s grand jury appearances were the most significant public development in the Justice Department’s investigation, there were other significant signs that the department was moving beyond the low-hanging fruit of prosecuting rioters who physically invaded the Capitol. on the day of certification.
A grand jury subpoena of Arizona State Senator Karen Fann obtained by CNN through a public records request underscores how investigators have cast a wide net, targeting the Trump-level fake voter plot. government and the state.
The subpoena to Fann, who led the partisan scrutiny of the ballots cast in Maricopa County, indicates that prosecutors are seeking communication on all topics between individuals related to the Trump administration, Congress, and the reelection efforts of the United States. Trump.
The House committee has described the bogus election plot, which would fraudulently portray Trump supporters as substitutes for legitimate Biden voters, as part of wider push to have Pence interrupt the certification of Biden’s victory. The Select Committee chair, Bennie Thompson, has also indicated that it is working on sharing information with the Justice Department from that aspect of the lawmakers’ investigation.
Meanwhile, the Department of Justice has also raised the bar in prosecuting those who violently attacked the Capitol, with seditious conspiracy charges against prominent members of fringe groups accused of plotting to “forcibly oppose the lawful transfer of the presidential power”.
The DOJ’s latest moves involving Pence employees come as Pence broke with Trump by backing Republican politicians competing in the GOP’s primaries against Trump’s favorite, including in races in Georgia and Arizona, where Trump’s lies about the 2020 election were prominent.
This story has been updated with additional details.
CNN’s Kara Scannell, Katelyn Polantz, Andrew Millman and Annie Grayer contributed to this report.