Federal Prosecutors Close In On Trump Inner Circle Over Jan. 6

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Federal prosecutors have been asking about former President Trump and activities within his inner circle while working on criminal cases related to the Capitol riot, as laid out in a new report from USA Today. There’s no indication as of this point that prosecutors have settled on charging Trump or any of his high-level political associates with anything directly tied to the riot, but those who’ve been asked about Trump-tied issues include Mark Grods, a member of the far-right group known as the Oath Keepers who opted to plead guilty and cooperate with prosecutors. Specifically, prosecutors asked Grods about longtime Trump ally Roger Stone, who members of the Oath Keepers were aiming to protect around the time of the riot.

Attorney Brian Lockwood, who is representing Grods, said that his client did not have firsthand information regarding Stone. As Lockwood put it, prosecutors “asked a ton of open-ended questions when I was allowed to be there,” such as: “What happened next? What did you see? Who was there? What did you see them doing? What were they wearing? What were they doing? Did you see them communicating with other people?” Separately, Capitol rioter Brandon Straka — who has also pleaded guilty, although his admitted offense was the lesser charge of disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds — was asked about Trump, according to his lawyer, Bilal Essayli. Essayli said that prosecutors were “focused on establishing an organized conspiracy between [Straka], President Donald J. Trump, and allies of the former president, to disrupt the Joint Session of Congress on January 6.” According to the lawyer, Straka “denied the existence of any such plot.”

Former federal prosecutor Patrick Cotter told USA Today that the “technical term for Trump and most people the government is asking about this early is probably ‘subjects,'” explaining that subjects “are people about whom the feds have not made any determination: They may turn out to be targets or witnesses.”

Apparently, issues that prosecutors have explored include the apparent belief on the part of certain rioters that Trump would invoke the federal law known as the Insurrection Act, which allows for the deployment of a “militia” to, among other things, go after “rebellion,” as USA Today put it. Oath Keepers founder and leader Stewart Rhodes, who’s since been charged with seditious conspiracy, indicated that members of his group were prepared to serve as the deployed “militia” in such a scenario. Rhodes spent tens of thousands of dollars on various forms of weaponry in the lead-up to January 6, with some of it going towards a stash of weapons in the vicinity of D.C. around the time of the Capitol attack.

The House committee investigating the riot was reported to be considering the possibility of recommending Trump or others to the Justice Department for prosecution on conspiracy charges. Another potential part of this possibly prosecutable conspiracy is the multi-state scheme to prepare falsified electoral votes on Trump’s behalf in states where Biden won. Recently, deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco confirmed that the scheme was being examined by the feds.