Justice Dept. expands Jan. 6 probe with fresh subpoenas
WASHINGTON - Federal agents investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday dropped subpoenas on people in at least two states, in what appeared to be a widening probe of how political activists supporting President Donald Trump tried to use invalid electors to thwart Joe Biden's 2020 electoral victory.
Agents conducted court authorized law enforcement activity Wednesday morning at two locations, FBI officials confirmed to The Washington Post. One was the home of Brad Carver, a Georgia lawyer who allegedly signed a document claiming to be a Trump elector. The other was the Virginia home of Thomas Lane, who worked on the Trump campaign's efforts in Arizona and New Mexico. The FBI officials did not identify the people associated with those addresses, but public records list each of the locations as the home addresses of the men.
Separately, at least some of the would-be Trump electors in Michigan also received subpoenas on Wednesday, according to a person who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. But it was not immediately clear whether that activity was related to a federal probe or a state-level criminal inquiry.
Trump campaign documents show advisers knew fake-elector plan was baseless. The precise nature of the information being sought by the Justice Department at the homes of Carver and Lane wasn't immediately clear.
Officials have previously said that the Justice Department and FBI were examining the issue of false electors, whom Trump and others hoped might be approved by state legislators in a last-ditch bid to keep Trump in the White House. Until now, however, those investigative efforts seemed to primarily involve talking to people in Republican circles who knew of the scheme and objected; the subpoenas issued Wednesday suggest the Justice Department is now moving to question at least some of those who allegedly agreed to pursue the effort.
FBI agents delivered a subpoena to Lane on Wednesday morning at his home in Virginia, according to the person who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. After leaving the Trump campaign, Lane has worked for the Republican National Committee's election efforts in Virginia, this person said.
Phone messages left for Lane were not immediately returned. Carver, the Georgia lawyer, also did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment. Public records list an address for Lane in south Arlington, and an FBI spokeswoman confirmed agents conducted "court-authorized law enforcement activity" at that address on Wednesday morning.
The new investigative moves by the Justice Department come amid a series of high-profile congressional hearings examining not just the riot at the Capitol, but also Trump's efforts to undo Biden's electoral victory through fake electors, lobbying the Justice Department and false claims of massive voter fraud.
Arizona and Georgia officials testified Tuesday to the House select committee about the activities launched by Trump and his inner circle of advisers directed at those states. On Thursday, the panel will hold a hearing featuring testimony from former Justice Department officials.
The Post has reported an uptick in the number of violent threats against lawmakers serving on that panel, with three people involved in the Jan. 6 legislative probe saying committee members are all likely to receive a security detail.
Earlier this year, the Justice Department sent subpoenas and sought interviews with some of the 15 people around the country who were slated to be Trump electors if he had won their states - but were replaced by other Trump supporters on the day of the electoral college vote, several people told The Post.
Some of those Republicans have told The Post they didn't participate as electors because Biden had won the popular vote in their state and they did not think the gatherings were appropriate; others said they declined to participate because they were ill or had scheduling conflicts.
Among those who refused to participate were Pennsylvania Republican Party Chairman Lawrence Tabas, an election-law expert who had defended Trump in 2016 against a recount push by Green Party candidate Jill Stein; former congressman Tom Marino (R-Pa.), one of the first members of Congress to endorse Trump's presidential campaign; and Georgia real estate investor John Isakson, son of the late Republican senator Johnny Isakson.
Those earlier subpoenas sought all documents since Oct. 1, 2020, related to the electoral college vote, as well as any election-related communications with roughly a dozen people in Trump's inner circle, including Rudy Giuliani, Bernard Kerik, Boris Epshteyn, Jenna Ellis and John Eastman.
One would-be Trump elector in Georgia, Patrick Gartland, had been appointed to the Cobb County Board of Elections and Registration and believed that post meant serving as an elector would have created a conflict of interest for him. Still, two FBI agents recently came to his home with a subpoena and asked whether he had any contact with Trump advisers around the time of the November election. "They wanted to know if I had talked to Giuliani," Gartland said.
The hearings on Capitol Hill have increased public pressure on the Justice Department to more aggressively investigate Trump and those close to him for their roles in the run-up to Jan. 6.
But senior Justice Department officials have also complained to the panel that prosecutors need access to the transcripts of more than 1,000 private committee interviews, and said that not having those transcripts jeopardizes the pending trial of five members of the Proud Boys extremist group accused of seditious conspiracy for their alleged role in the riot. The federal judge handling that case on Wednesday ordered another trial delay, from Aug. 8 until December.
More than 820 individuals have already been charged by the Justice Department for their alleged roles in the Jan. 6 attack, making it the largest investigation in the department's history. Hundreds more people are being sought.
Earlier this year, prosecutors significantly expanded their investigation by issuing subpoenas to those who involved in the preparations for the rally that preceded the riot.
The Washington Post's Jacqueline Alemany, Alice Crites, Amy Gardner and Rosalind S. Helderman contributed to this report.