WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has requested the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol for proof it has amassed about the scheme by former President Donald J. Trump and his allies to put ahead false slates of pro-Trump electors in battleground states gained by Joseph R. Biden Jr. in 2020.
Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the committee, disclosed the request to reporters on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, and an individual accustomed to the panel’s work stated discussions with the Justice Department about the false elector scheme have been ongoing. Those talks counsel that the division is sharpening its focus on that facet of Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the election, one with a direct line to the former president.
Mr. Thompson stated the committee was working with federal prosecutors to enable them to assessment the transcripts of interviews the panel has finished with individuals who served as so-called alternate electors for Mr. Trump. Mr. Thompson stated the Justice Department’s investigation into “fraudulent electors” was the solely particular matter the company had broached with the committee.
A spokesman for the Justice Department declined to remark.
For weeks, the Justice Department has been negotiating with the Jan. 6 panel about turning over transcripts of its interviews to federal prosecutors. The company has requested the committee for copies of each transcript of every of its greater than 1,000 interviews, whereas the committee has pushed again, requesting that the division slender its request.
Mr. Thompson’s feedback Wednesday have been the clearest indication but of what the Justice Department is in search of.
“We’re in the process of negotiating how that information will be viewed,” Mr. Thompson stated, including that he believed Justice Department officers would make an appointment with the committee to assessment the transcripts in individual. “We’re engaging.”
The Justice Department has been investigating the scheme to put ahead pretend electors for months and has issued subpoenas to high Trump attorneys who labored on the plan.
Last month, the committee tied Mr. Trump straight to the scheme and offered contemporary particulars on how the former president sought to bully, cajole and bluff his manner into invalidating his 2020 defeat in states round the nation.
The committee offered proof that Mr. Trump sought to persuade lawmakers in battleground states gained by Mr. Biden to create the slates of alternate electors supporting him, hoping that Vice President Mike Pence would use them to subvert the regular democratic course of when he oversaw Congress’s official rely of electoral votes on Jan. 6.
The plan seems to have been set in movement simply days after the election, when a pro-Trump lawyer, Cleta Mitchell, despatched an e mail suggesting the thought to John Eastman, one other lawyer shut to Mr. Trump.
Key Revelations From the Jan. 6 Hearings
By Nov. 18, 2020, one other pro-Trump lawyer, Kenneth Chesebro, had joined the effort, writing a memo suggesting that the Trump marketing campaign ought to manage its allies in a number of swing states to draft pretend slates of electors. Around Thanksgiving, nonetheless others signed on to the plan, together with Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s private lawyer, and Mark Meadows, the White House chief of workers, in accordance to a recorded deposition from Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to Mr. Meadows.
Eventually, the Republican National Committee was introduced in as nicely, Ronna McDaniel, the group’s chairwoman, stated in a recorded deposition performed at a listening to final month.
Ms. McDaniel testified that Mr. Trump had referred to as her and put Mr. Eastman on the telephone “to talk about the importance of the R.N.C. helping the campaign gather these contingent electors.”
All of this was allowed to go ahead, the committee stated, regardless of the proven fact that a number of attorneys for the Trump marketing campaign believed it was unlawful.
The committee has additionally amassed proof about the scheme from the so-called alternate electors themselves, issuing subpoenas to greater than a dozen of them. Some of those that obtained subpoenas, together with electors from Georgia, have complied and sat for interviews with the panel.
In latest weeks, the panel realized that two folks referred to as Ms. Hutchinson in what she characterised as an try to affect her testimony. Then, the committee revealed on Tuesday, Mr. Trump personally referred to as a witness — although he didn’t attain the individual, who notified their lawyer — prompting the panel to refer the matter to the Justice Department.
“It’s highly unusual,” Mr. Thompson informed reporters on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. “That’s why we, more or less, put that in the hands of the Justice Department.”
Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, stated some Republicans had tried to dismiss the matter by suggesting that Mr. Trump might need by chance dialed the witness.
“But if the former president was trying to interfere with a witness, that would be, obviously, a very serious allegation,” stated Mr. Romney, who voted final yr to convict Mr. Trump on the impeachment cost of incitement of rebellion and take away him after the Jan. 6 assault.
The committee’s focus on potential witness tampering by Mr. Trump seems to be an effort to prod the Justice Department to examine the former president for potential crimes. At every of its latest hearings, the panel has offered proof that its members consider may very well be used to bolster felony expenses towards Mr. Trump. The committee has supplied particulars, together with about the pretend electors, that may very well be grounds for expenses of conspiracy to defraud the American folks, falsifying paperwork and obstructing an official continuing of Congress.
Witness tampering could be yet one more avenue for prosecuting the former president. Mr. Trump has an extended historical past of creating statements or taking actions that may be learn as efforts to intervene with ongoing investigations concentrating on him.
In April 2018, he referred to as his former private lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, shortly after Mr. Cohen’s residence, workplace and lodge room have been searched by the F.B.I. and urged him to keep sturdy, an individual with data of the name stated.
He additionally made statements — in public and on Twitter — that Robert S. Mueller III, the particular counsel investigating a doable conspiracy between the Mr. Trump’s marketing campaign and Russian officers, thought of doable acts of obstruction of justice. Those included posts on Twitter asserting that Mr. Cohen would by no means flip on him after Mr. Cohen was clearly underneath investigation.
Mr. Mueller’s group, which didn’t have the energy to indict a sitting president, finally didn’t state whether or not it believed Mr. Trump had obstructed justice in the 11 situations it examined, as an alternative laying them out extensively in the 448-page report it issued.
Maggie Haberman, Emily Cochrane and Glenn Thrush contributed reporting.