Federal investigation into Trump fake elector probe expands to multiple states

In one instance, FBI agents asked a prominent Georgia Republican if he had had direct conversations with Trump.

“They just asked who had spoken to me. If anyone from the Trump campaign had been in contact with me. Did Giuliani speak to me? Did Trump speak to me?” said Patrick Gartland, who was to be a voter but dropped out. He recounted how two FBI agents visited his home in Marietta, Georgia a few weeks ago.

Investigators sought answers this month from Gartland and other GOP-linked people in Georgia and Michigan — both in interviews with the FBI and in grand jury subpoenas for documents and testimonials. Investigators are looking into whether the Trump campaign played a role in submitting fake voter certificates, according to people approached by the Justice Department.

The aggressiveness of the federal investigation in battleground states around the voter issue has gone unreported before. The DOJ has charged hundreds of rioters who stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, and in recent months investigators have broadened their reach, seeking information on people from more politically-minded circles. connected.

Search for documents in Georgia

The subpoenas issued to Gartland and others in Georgia are for communicating with “any member, employee, or agent of Donald J. Trump or any organization advocating for the re-election of Donald J. Trump in 2020,” including his official campaign.

The subpoenas also target any communication with more than two dozen named Trump campaign officials, lawyers and Georgian voters. CNN reported on Wednesday that a recent subpoena regarding alternate voters sought contact with Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, Trump campaign attorney Justin Clark, right-wing attorney John Eastman and others.

A question that hangs over the Georgia GOP and the Trump campaign is whether voters put together fake slates to fraudulently nullify Biden’s Electoral College victory, or if they thought they were submitting alternate slates just in case. Trump’s legal challenges would succeed. No court has allowed Trump to overturn the election results.

A Trump spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

No one has been charged with a crime related to the alternative voter lists. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, DC, which is overseeing the DOJ’s Jan. 6 investigation, declined to comment.

A special Fulton County grand jury in Georgia is also investigating Trump’s efforts to nullify the 2020 election, including bogus voters. This is separate from the federal investigation.

Federal subpoenas have been issued to Republicans with one thing in common: people who were slated to serve as voters for Trump in 2020 but ultimately backed out.

Gartland had been a state voter, until he became an election council official in 2020 and resigned as a voter because it was a possible conflict of interest. The FBI questioned Gartland about the episode.

He told the FBI he had no direct contact with anyone in the Trump campaign. “But hey, I’m nobody,” he joked in an interview with CNN.

FBI agents also spoke to Jason Shepherd, another former Georgia GOP party official, several times this month, asking if he had any conversations with Trump campaign officials after the election.

Gartland asked Shepherd to fill his voter spot, but Shepherd ultimately did not fill that role. He said he, too, received a subpoena, for documents dating back to October 1, 2020, and to testify before the federal grand jury this month.

“They were asking about the campaign and the slate in Georgia, trying to figure out what I might have had access to and what I was aware of,” Shepherd told CNN.

Shepherd said he had no documents to hand over, but he encouraged federal investigators to subpoena other state party officials. He said voters who served may have thought they were helping the Trump administration and the Republican Party.

“The devil really has to be in the minutiae and details,” Shepherd said.

Three other Georgia GOP voters opted out of the list before Jan. 6 of last year, in addition to Shepherd and Gartland. They either didn’t respond to CNN’s inquiries or declined to comment.

Shepherd was not asked specifically about communications with Trump, he said, adding that he wouldn’t have had to report any anyway.

Interview with the FBI in Michigan

In Michigan, federal investigators sued Republicans who had similar roles in 2020 for sharing information about how Trump’s voter rolls were organized.

Gerald Wall, a longtime Republican official in rural northern Michigan, said about two weeks ago he arrived home to find two men in black suits outside his garage.

One was an FBI agent, the other from the National Archives, he said. “Instead of staying in the garage, I invited them into the house,” Wall said.

Federal agents spoke to Wall for about 45 minutes, questioning him about Trump’s 2020 Michigan voters list, which was submitted to the feds despite Biden’s victory there.

Wall, now 85, says he was battling severe coronavirus around the 2020 election, which prevented him from being a voter at that time. Another GOP member replaced him as voter.

“I had nothing to do with signing the affidavits,” Wall told CNN on Friday. Investigators, he said, “just asked me how I felt about it. I said yes, there were irregularities in Michigan.”

Before leaving, officers served Wall with a subpoena for his grand jury testimony, he said. But he told them he couldn’t travel that far and had nothing to share. “I told them in my form that I wasn’t going to Washington,” Wall said.

This headline and story were updated with additional information on Friday.

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