DOJ Conducting Broad Criminal Probe Targeting Post-Election Challengers

Original article.
By Eva Fu, September 20, 2022, Updated: September 21, 2022

The Justice Department building in Washington, on Dec. 9, 2019. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

A grand jury subpoena, one of dozens served in recent weeks, indicates that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is conducting a criminal investigation into activities questioning the integrity of the 2020 presidential election, including the appointments of alternate slates of electors and disputing the veracity of election results.

The subpoena dated Sept. 6, which was first obtained by Red State, orders recipients to testify before a federal grand jury in Washington. They also must submit all communications related to post-election challenges, including theories of election fraud, whether then-Vice President Mike Pence had the authority to change the election outcome, and “any strategies or options for ensuring the certification of Donald J. Trump as the victor of the 2020 Presidential Election.”

The widespread issuing of subpoenas suggests the DOJ is ramping up investigations focused on the former president and his allies just two months ahead of the midterm elections.

The DOJ, according to the subpoena, is interested in documents and communications with a range from Trump’s top advisers to state electors, local officials, and dozens more individuals in seven contested states where Trump and supporters have cast doubt on the election outcome. One line of inquiry relates to the Save America PAC, the main political fundraising channel used by Trump and created shortly after the election, which didn’t return a request from The Epoch Times for comment.

Another focus of the DOJ appears to be the question of so-called alternate electors. In the wake of the 2020 election, Republican electors in the states of Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico cast dueling votes for Trump, while the certified electors in the same states voted for Joe Biden. Those involved in the efforts have publicly stated that they did so because of the disputes surrounding the election.

Chilling Effect

Along with the ongoing probe into the alleged mishandling of classified documents at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and a House committee’s inquiry over the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach, the DOJ investigation into efforts to dispute the 2020 election results appears to be having a chilling effect on Trump allies and supporters.

Few people who were named as part of the subpoena’s request for documents were willing to comment about the issue when contacted by The Epoch Times. The ones who did comment mostly hadn’t received a subpoena themselves, although some indicated they had caught wind of it.

“I have no comments, and no opinion,” Ash Khare, a member of the Warren County Republican Committee in Pennsylvania, who signed a form certifying the state’s 2020 results for Trump, told The Epoch Times when asked about the inclusion of his name in the subpoena.

One of the most prominent attorneys named is Sidney Powell, who briefly served as counsel to Trump after the 2020 election and later filed lawsuits independently alleging election fraud.

Powell told The Epoch Times that she wasn’t previously aware of a subpoena naming her and noted that a Georgia subpoena to her was recently withdrawn. Alongside the federal probe, a grand jury in Georgia also is investigating alleged efforts by Trump and his allies to dispute that state’s election results.

Conservative lawyer Cleta Mitchell, who aided Trump’s post-election challenge efforts, also is listed in the subpoena’s records request. The attorney said she hasn’t received a subpoena.

“I noticed that I am a ‘search term.’ But that’s all I know,” Mitchell, chair of the Indiana-based Public Interest Legal Foundation, told The Epoch Times. She added that she has provided the Jan. 6 Committee with “all responsive, non-privileged documents,” and “if the DOJ serves my attorney a document subpoena, we would respond to it in the same manner as with the J6 Committee: We will provide all responsive, non-privileged documents.”

A sign for the Department of Justice hangs in the press briefing room at the Justice Department in Washington, on April 18, 2019. (Patrick Semansky/AP Photo)

‘Fishing Expedition’

Attorney Timothy Parlatore, whose client, former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, was named in the subpoena, said that he isn’t worried about the DOJ.

“It very much struck me as a complete fishing expedition,” Parlatore told The Epoch Times. “Usually, the DOJ is a lot more targeted with their subpoenas.”

“It’s definitely looking much more like a spray and pray,” he said. “Ask for everything under the sun, and maybe you get lucky that you might actually have something with one or two of these points.”

Given the timing, he said, the subpoenas are likely an effort to influence the midterm elections in which Republicans are seeking a reset in power dynamics.

Former New York City police Commissioner Bernard Kerik enters the courthouse for a pre-trial hearing in White Plains, N.Y. on Oct. 20, 2009. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Lauren Bowman Bis, a spokeswoman for the Public Interest Legal Foundation, noted that the subpoena “includes documents constituting any evidence that there was fraud of any kind in the 2020 election.”

“This is a blatant overreach and will have the chilling effect to stop people from reporting election crimes,” she told The Epoch Times. “This subpoena is proof of what we already knew, the DOJ is full of partisan bureaucrats.”

‘Entire Trump Campaign’ Targeted

Bruce Marks, a former Republican Pennsylvania state senator and lawyer who represented the Trump campaign in 2016, described the subpoena as “outrageous.”

“It looks like they’re investigating the entire Trump campaign,” Marks, also named in the subpoena, told The Epoch Times.

“It’s a retaliatory, politically motivated attack,” he said. “What they’re doing is subpoenaing people who don’t have the resources to fight these subpoenas, and they’re using that as a backhanded way of getting the communications of the campaign, and it’s wrong.”

Marks asserted that the Trump campaign was following the playbook that took place in the 1960 presidential election, when the governor of Hawaii certified electors for Republican Richard Nixon while Democratic electors cast votes for Democrat John F. Kennedy, the ultimate winner following a subsequent recount that determined Kennedy had secured more votes in the state.

“Nothing was hidden. It was sent to the National Archives. It was sent to Congress. It was all done above board,” he said.

Marks, who led the election integrity challenge in 2020 in his home state, insisted that “there’s no basis whatsoever to think that I was involved in anything that was that was wrong.”

“I’m one of the few people who’s actually proven election fraud in the United States, let alone in my own case,” he said.

In 1993, the then-36-year-old Marks initially appeared to have lost a Pennsylvania Senate race, but emerged as the winner after a federal judge found his opponent, William G. Stinson, had engaged in election fraud through “numerous illegally obtained absentee ballots.”

He believes the subpoenas are a violation of attorney-client privilege and First Amendment rights, which protect the freedom to associate for political purposes. The disclosure of such communications will also make Republicans’ campaign strategies public, in turn, helping the Democrats in elections, he alleged.

A string of phone seizures from Trump lawyers and Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) by the FBI have also been unsettling, Marks said.

Having lived in Moscow during the Soviet Union and later founded a law firm there in 1998, he said he had seen “the impact of not having a fair and free political system.”

“And it scares me that this is now happening in the United States.”

Officials at the Justice Department didn’t respond by press time to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.

** End **