Former President Donald Trump’s actions in trying to overturn the 2020 election are being investigated as part of a criminal probe by the Justice Department, according to reports Tuesday night.
Citing four sources familiar with the matter, the Washington Post reported that prosecutors have questioned multiple witnesses in recent days in front of a grand jury, asking detailed questions about Trump’s meetings in December 2020 and January 2021 and instructions he gave his attorneys and advisers about fake electors. The New York Times later matched that report, noting that while the probe has taken a more aggressive phase, it does not mean a criminal investigation into Trump has been formally opened.
The Post also reported Justice Department investigators have obtained phone records in April from Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, as well as other top aides and Trump administration officials.
Trump spoke Tuesday in Washington, focusing on crime and saying the U.S. needs to “be tough, and be nasty and be mean if we have to.” He also refused to accept his loss in the 2020 election, continuing to spout baseless claims of election fraud.
While investigations into Trump allies such as Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman and others have been previously reported, the degree of investigators’ interest in Trump himself had not previously been reported, the Post said.
On Monday, former Vice President Mike Pence’s former chief of staff, Marc Short, testified before the federal grand jury investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol assault.
Separately, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said Tuesday that the Justice Department has not ruled out prosecuting Trump.
“We pursue justice without fear or favor,” Garland told NBC News anchor Lester Holt in an interview that aired on NBC Nightly News.
Garland called the Justice Department’s Jan. 6 probe “the most wide-ranging investigation in its history,” and said it plans “to hold everyone, anyone who was criminally responsible for the events surrounding January 6, for any attempt to interfere with the lawful transfer of power from one administration to another, accountable, that’s what we do.”