DOJ escalates Jan. 6 probe, targets Trump allies ahead of midterms

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The Justice Department’s accelerating Jan. 6 investigation has expanded far beyond its original focus on the Capitol breach to target those who questioned the 2020 presidential election, focusing on former President Donald Trump and his associates — just two months before Election Day as President Biden spearheads a political offensive vilifying opposition party leaders and voters alike as threats to democracy.

Over the past week, the department has subpoenaed several Trump associates as part of an ongoing probe that critics describe as an intimidation campaign meant to instill fear in Trump supporters.

According to the New York Times, about 40 subpoenas have been issued seeking information about the 2020 election and Capitol riot. Among those subpoenaed were top Trump advisers Boris Epshteyn and Mike Roman, who reportedly had their phones seized as evidence.

Many other Trump aides and confidantes close to the 45th president both in and out of the White House were also subpoenaed, including Dan Scavino, his former social media director.

Stephen Miller and Brian Jack, two top White House advisers under Trump, have also been subpoenaed, as has Trump adviser William Russell.

Others to be served by federal prosecutors reportedly included the Trump 2020 campaign’s chief financial officer Sean Dollman and first daughter Ivanka Trump’s chief of staff Julie Radford, among several others.

Many of the subpoenas seek information about plans to block or delay Congress’s certification of Biden’s victory in the 2020 election by submitting slates of electors pledged to Trump from swing states that Biden won.

Other subpoenas relate to a new interest of the government’s investigation: Trump’s fundraising efforts between the 2020 election and the Jan. 6 Capitol breach.

Specifically, the government is looking into the Trump-aligned Save America PAC, which was formed soon after Election Day in 2020 and received a wave of donations while pushing Trump’s claims that the vote was stolen.

Since its inception, the PAC has brought in more than $135 million, including transfers from affiliated committees, and spent just $36 million, leaving it with about $99 million in cash on hand at the end of July, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

The subpoenas came days after Biden attacked Trump and supporters of the Make America Great Again movement aligned with him as threats to the country in a polarizing speech delivered in Philadelphia. The timing is not a coincidence, according to Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich.

“It should surprise no one that days after Biden declared Trump supporters a ‘threat’ to democracy, his admin goes after those very same supporters & Save America PAC, which is committed to Make America Great Again,” Budowich tweeted last week. “Biden is using government to divide & destroy this nation.”

Critics and legal experts have decried the latest escalation in the government’s probe as a political witch hunt casting too wide a net.

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