Justice Dept. investigating Trump, fake elector scheme allegations, reports say

Published: Jul. 27, 2022 at 9:13 AM EDT
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(CNN) - The Justice Department is apparently looking closer at the so-called fake elector scheme in the 2020 election.

The Justice Department is investigating actions by former President Donald Trump in its criminal investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election, according to a new report from the Washington Post.

A source close to the investigation told CNN prosecutors are focusing in on the fake elector scheme and the role of lawyers Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman along with meetings that were part of a pressure campaign to convince then-Vice President Mike Pence to disrupt the certification of electoral votes.

“The Justice Department has from the beginning been moving urgently to learn everything we can about this period,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said.

In an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, Garland deflected criticism that the Department of Justice is not moving fast enough.

“We have a huge number of prosecutors and agents working on these cases,” Garland said. “It is inevitable in this kind of investigation that there will be speculation about what we are doing, who we are investigating, what our theories are. The reason there is this speculation and uncertainty is that it’s a fundamental tenet of what we do as prosecutors and investigators is to do it outside of the public eye. We do that for two important reasons. One is to protect the civil liberties people and events that we’re investigating and the second is to ensure the success and the integrity of our investigation.”

When it comes to charging Trump and others, he’s not ruling that out.

“We pursue justice without fear or favor. We intend to hold everyone -- anyone -- who is criminally responsible for the events surrounding January 6 or any attempt to interfere with the lawful transfer of power from one administration to another accountable,” Garland said. “That is what we do. We don’t pay any attention to other issues with respect to that.”

And asked whether a 2024 presidential bid from Trump would change that, Garland reiterated, “I will say again that we will hold accountable anyone who is criminally responsible for attempting to interfere with the legitimate, lawful transfer of power from one administration to the next.”

On Capitol Hill, in newly released audio, former acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller is heard telling the House Select Committee that Trump never gave an order to have troops ready to be deployed to the Capitol on Jan. 6.

“I was never given any direction order or knew of any plans of that nature,” he said. “There was no direct, there was no order from the president.”

Trump has said that he requested National Guard troops to be ready that day, saying that he “suggested and offered” 20,000 National Guard troops.

Newly obtained emails obtained by the New York Times show that Trump allies knew that their electoral scheme was fake.

In an email sent to Trump campaign adviser Boris Epshteyn from a Phoenix-based lawyer, the lawyer wrote, “We would just be sending in ‘fake’ electoral votes to pence so that ‘someone’ in Congress can make an objection when they start counting votes and start arguing the ‘fake’ votes should be counted.”

In a follow up email, the lawyer said, “PPS, ‘alternative’ votes is probably a better term than ‘fake’ votes,” adding a smiley face emoticon.

For the first time since leaving office, Trump returned to Washington to speak about Republican policies and air some grievances at the America First Policy Institute’s two-day summit.

“I ran for president. I won, and I won a second time, much better the second time,” Trump said.

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