The Justice Department has stepped up its criminal investigation into the creation of alternate slates of pro-Trump electors seeking to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election, with a particular focus on a team of lawyers that worked on behalf of President Trump, the New York Times reports. A federal grand jury has started issuing subpoenas to people linked to the alternate elector plan, requesting information about several lawyers including Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and one of his chief legal advisers, John Eastman. The subpoenas also seek information on other pro-Trump lawyers like Jenna Ellis, who worked with Giuliani, and Kenneth Chesebro, who wrote memos supporting the elector scheme. A top Justice Department official has acknowledged that prosecutors were trying to determine whether any crimes were committed in the scheme.
Under the plan, election officials in seven key swing states put forward formal lists of pro-Trump electors to the Electoral College on the grounds that the states would be shown to have swung in favor of Trump once their claims of widespread election fraud were accepted. Those claims were baseless, and all seven states were awarded to Biden. It is a federal crime knowingly to submit false statements to a federal agency or agent. The alternate elector slates were filed with several government bodies, including the National Archives. The focus on the alternate electors is only one of DOJ's efforts to broaden its vast investigation of hundreds of rioters who broke into the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. The widening and intensifying Justice Department inquiry also comes as the House committee investigating efforts to overturn the election and the assault prepares for public hearings next month.