Donald Trump is reportedly itching to start his 2024 presidential campaign, at least in part to avoid criminal prosecution. If so, he may be in a race against time. His business is under investigation by the New York state attorney general office. It looks like Rupert Murdoch is breaking up with him. And then there’s the Jan. 6 hearings, which have provided plenty of damning evidence about his actions in the lead up to, during, and after the storming of the Capitol. Now he has something else to worry about.
As per The Washington Post, the Justice Department, which has been semi-quietly launching its own investigation into the riot, is reportedly expanding its scope to include the big guy himself:
Prosecutors who are questioning witnesses before a grand jury — including two top aides to Vice President Mike Pence — have asked in recent days about conversations with Trump, his lawyers, and others in his inner circle who sought to substitute Trump allies for certified electors from some states Joe Biden won, according to two people familiar with the matter. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.
The prosecutors have asked hours of detailed questions about meetings Trump led in December 2020 and January 2021; his pressure campaign on Pence to overturn the election; and what instructions Trump gave his lawyers and advisers about fake electors and sending electors back to the states, the people said. Some of the questions focused directly on the extent of Trump’s involvement in the fake-elector effort led by his outside lawyers, including John Eastman and Rudy Giuliani, these people said.
What’s more, back in April, Justice Department investigators received phone records from key Trump officials, including former chief of staff Mark Meadows.
It’s already been known that the DoJ investigation was targeting some of Trump’s top cronies, including Rudy Giuliani and now-infamous lawyer John Eastman, who drafted plans for how Trump could circumvent the 2020 election.
On Tuesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland — who has come under fire for being too slow and/or reluctant to prosecute what may be criminal behavior by Trump and allies — gave an exclusive interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt, where he suggested he wouldn’t back down from prosecuting Trump if he had to.
“We intend to hold everyone, anyone who was criminally responsible for the events surrounding Jan. 6, for any attempt to interfere with the lawful transfer of power from one administration to another, accountable. That’s what we do. We don’t pay any attention to other issues with respect to that,” he told Holt.
When asked if he would change course if Trump formally launched a third campaign, Garland responded, “I’ll, say again, that we will hold accountable anyone who was criminally responsible for attempting to interfere with the transfer, legitimate, lawful transfer of power from one administration to the next.”
Whatever happens, better break out the popcorn now.