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Justice Dept. subpoenas Ariz., Mich., Wis. officials in Trump Jan. 6 probe

The requests to multiple counties Trump targeted in effort to reverse 2020 loss are among the first issued since Jack Smith was appointed special counsel

Jack Smith was named by Attorney General Merrick Garland to oversee Trump-related aspects of the investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, as well as the criminal probe of the former president’s possible mishandling of classified documents at his Florida home and private club. (Peter Dejong/AP)
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Special counsel Jack Smith has sent grand jury subpoenas to local officials in Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin — three states that were central to President Donald Trump’s failed plan to stay in power following the 2020 election — seeking any and all communications with Trump, his campaign, and a long list of aides and allies.

The requests for records arrived in Dane County, Wis.; Maricopa County, Ariz.; and Wayne County, Mich., late last week, and in Milwaukee on Monday, officials said. They are among the first known subpoenas issued since Smith was named last month by Attorney General Merrick Garland to oversee Trump-related aspects of the investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, as well as the criminal probe of Trump’s possible mishandling of classified documents at his Florida home and private club.

The subpoenas, at least three of which are dated Nov. 22, indicate that the Justice Department is extending its examination of the circumstances leading up to the Capitol attack to include local election officials and their potential interactions with the former president and his representatives related to the 2020 election.

The virtually identical requests to Arizona and Wisconsin seek communications with Trump, in addition to employees, agents and attorneys for his campaign. Details of the Michigan subpoena, confirmed by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, were not immediately available.

“I’m happy to participate in this process,” said George Christenson, the Milwaukee County clerk, who confirmed the subpoena in a telephone interview Tuesday and provided a copy to The Washington Post.

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Christenson said he was not aware of any communications with his office or the Trump campaign that have not already been made public. But he speculated that federal investigators are hunting for new details about the campaign’s efforts to convene illegitimate, pro-Trump electors in key battleground states that Joe Biden narrowly won.

Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell, whose county encompasses Madison, Wis., the state capital, released a similar subpoena and said he, too, believed that all significant communications had already been made public.

Fields Moseley, a spokesman for Maricopa County, said, “We have received a subpoena and will comply.”

Officials in Wayne County, home of Detroit, confirmed the subpoena but declined to provide details.

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.

Jan. 6 select committee members on Nov. 20 supported the appointment of a special counsel to investigate former president Donald Trump. (Video: JM Rieger/The Washington Post)

The department’s long-running Jan. 6 investigation has moved beyond the large pool of people who directly took part in the bloody riot at the U.S. Capitol to focus on other aspects of the attempts to overturn the election results. Prosecutors are examining the fundraising, organizing and rhetoric that preceded the riot, and looking at failed efforts to authorize alternate slates of electors. They secured subpoenas this spring and summer for communications between Trump’s inner circle and scores of campaign officials, potential electors and others.

Justice Department's Jan. 6 investigation is looking at ... everything

After Trump declared last month that he would again seek the White House in 2024, Garland appointed Smith, a longtime federal prosecutor who once headed the Justice Department’s public corruption section, to oversee the elements of the Jan. 6 investigation potentially related to the former president.

Smith also is overseeing the Mar-a-Lago criminal investigation, which began this spring, after months of disagreement between Trump and the National Archives and Records Administration over boxes of documents that followed the former president from the White House to Mar-a-Lago, his Florida residence and private club.

Court papers say more than 300 documents marked “classified” were eventually recovered from Trump’s home, more than 100 of them taken during an Aug. 8 FBI search of the property. Some contained extremely sensitive government secrets. The Justice Department is examining whether Trump may have mishandled those materials, destroyed government property or attempted to obstruct efforts to retrieve the materials.

The status of key investigations involving Donald Trump

Previous subpoenas, in Arizona and other battleground states targeted by Trump, have been issued to key Republican players seen as allies in his pressure campaign to reverse the results of the 2020 election. Maricopa County, the sprawling Arizona jurisdiction that is home to Phoenix and more than half the state’s voters, was among several localities on the receiving end of that pressure.

The Post could not confirm Tuesday whether the latest round of subpoenas went to local officials in any other states. The office of the secretary of state in Pennsylvania, another 2020 contested state, declined to comment. State and local election officials in another contested state, Georgia, said they knew of no subpoenas arriving in the past week. Officials in Clark County, Nev., the sixth contested state, declined to comment.

The Arizona subpoena was addressed to Maricopa County’s elections department, while the Wisconsin versions were addressed to the Milwaukee and Dane clerks. All seek communications from June 1, 2020, through Jan. 20, 2021.

The requested communications include those with Trump’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, and other advisers, such as Boris Epshteyn. Attorneys identified include Trump campaign lawyers Justin Clark and Matthew Morgan, as well as those serving in other capacities, such as John Eastman, Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell and Cleta Mitchell.

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Those three subpoenas, while sent out by Smith, were also signed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Burke.

Trump and key allies tried to avert his narrow losses in the six battleground states through a lengthy pressure campaign. For instance, after losing Wisconsin by about 21,000 votes, Trump sought recounts in Milwaukee and Dane counties, the state’s most populous and most Democratic jurisdictions.

The recounts showed slightly worse results for Trump than the initial tally, but Trump used the process to ask the state Supreme Court to invalidate hundreds of thousands of votes — a proposal the justices rejected 4-3.

The subpoenas seek communications with James Troupis, a former Dane County judge who oversaw Trump’s legal efforts in Wisconsin. They also seek exchanges with attorney Kenneth Chesebro, who sent memos to Troupis in November and December 2020 about assembling slates of illegitimate electors.

On Jan. 6, 2021, Troupis asked Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) to help get false-elector paperwork to Vice President Mike Pence as Congress convened to confirm the election results. Johnson did not carry out the request after an aide to Pence said the paperwork should not be given to him.

The attack: The Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol was neither a spontaneous act nor an isolated event

Biden handily won Michigan’s Wayne County, but the county’s canvassing board initially deadlocked when it came to finalizing the results, with the board’s two Democrats voting to certify the results and its two Republicans refusing to do so. Hours later, the Republicans relented, and the board unanimously certified the results.

In Maricopa County, the pressure focused heavily on urging the GOP-controlled governing board to delay certifying the election results.

Then-Supervisor Steve Chucri, a Republican, has said he met with Giuliani at the state Capitol in mid-to-late November 2020. In December, Giuliani tried to reach Republican supervisors Bill Gates, Jack Sellers and Clint Hickman by phone. Days later, Trump himself twice tried to speak to Hickman, then chair of the governing board.

The calls came on Dec. 31, 2020, as Hickman was at dinner with his wife and friends, and again on Jan. 3, 2021, the same day The Post broke news of Trump’s conversation with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Trump had urged the Georgia election director to “find” enough votes to reverse his loss there.

Hickman, who had been told by Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward to expect outreach by Trump, let both calls go to voice mail. “Hello, sir. This is the White House operator, I was calling to let you know that the president’s available to take your call if you’re free,” one voice mail said. “If you could please give us a call back, sir, that’d be great. You have a good evening.”

After the county board certified the election results, Trump and his allies sought to discredit them — pushing what would become a months-long inspection of ballots and voting equipment ordered by the GOP-led state Senate.

Some of the figures named in the subpoena were either involved in, or encouraged, that haphazard 2021 review, which also ended up affirming Trump’s loss.

Marley reported from Madison, Wis., and Wingett Sanchez from Phoenix. Matthew Brown in Atlanta and Rosalind S. Helderman, Perry Stein and Emma Brown in Washington contributed to this report.

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Divided government: Republicans narrowly won back control of the House, while Democrats will keep control of the Senate, creating a split Congress.

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