Did former President Trump study detailed information about foreign countries? How extensively did he seek information about possible tampering with voting machines? Did he indicate he knew he was leaving when his term ended? Those are among questions that Justice Department investigators have been directing at witnesses as special counsel Jack Smith takes control of the federal investigations into Trump’s efforts to reverse his 2020 election loss and his handling of classified documents after he left office. Through witness interviews, subpoenas and other steps, Smith has been moving aggressively in the three months since being named to take over the inquiries. His goal is to resolve as quickly as possible whether Trump, a contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, should face charges.
Last week, Smith issued a subpoena to former Vice President Mike Pence, a potentially vital witness to Trump’s actions and state of mind in the days before the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, reports the New York Times. Prosecutors have brought a member of Trump’s legal team, M. Evan Corcoran, before a federal grand jury investigating why Trump did not return classified information kept at his Mar-a-Lago residence and private club in Florida. Since returning to Washington from The Hague, where he was a war crimes prosecutor, Smith has set up shop across town from the Justice Department’s headquarters. His operation seems to resemble the organization he oversaw when he ran the Justice Department’s public integrity unit from 2010 to 2015. Three of his hires — J.P. Cooney, Raymond Hulser and David Harbach — were trusted colleagues during Smith’s earlier stints in the department. Thomas Windom, a former federal prosecutor in Maryland who had been tapped by Attorney General Merrick Garland’s aides to oversee major elements of the Jan. 6 inquiry, remains part of the leadership team. In addition to the documents and Jan. 6 investigations, Smith appears to be pursuing Save America, a pro-Trump political action committee, through which Trump raised millions of dollars with his false claims of election fraud. That investigation includes looking into how and why the committee’s vendors were paid.