WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has issued about 40 subpoenas over the past week seeking information about the actions of former President Donald Trump and his associates related to the 2020 election and the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, according to people familiar with the situation.
Two top Trump advisers, Boris Epshteyn and Mike Roman, had their phones seized as evidence, those people said.
The department’s actions represent a substantial escalation of a slow-simmer investigation two months before the midterm elections, coinciding with a separate inquiry into Trump’s hoarding of sensitive documents at Mar-a-Lago, his residence in Florida.
Among those the department has contacted since Wednesday are people who are close to Trump and have played significant roles in his post-White House life.
Those receiving the subpoenas included Dan Scavino, Trump’s former social media director who rose from working at a Trump-owned golf course to one of his most loyal aides and has remained an adviser after Trump left office. Stanley Woodward, one of Scavino’s lawyers, declined to comment.
The Justice Department also executed search warrants to seize electronic devices from people involved in the so-called fake electors effort in swing states, including Epshteyn, a longtime Trump adviser, and Roman, a campaign strategist, according to people familiar with the events. Federal agents made the seizures last week, the people said.
Epshteyn and Roman did not respond to requests for comment.
A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment.
Bernard Kerik, a former New York City Police commissioner who promoted baseless claims of voter fraud alongside his friend Rudy Giuliani, was issued a subpoena by prosecutors with the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, D.C., his lawyer Timothy Parlatore said Monday. Parlatore said his client had initially offered to grant an interview voluntarily.
The subpoenas seek information in connection with the plan to submit slates of electors pledged to Trump from swing states that were won by Joe Biden in the 2020 election. Trump and his allies promoted the idea that competing slates of electors would justify blocking or delaying certification of Biden’s Electoral College victory during a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021.
Some of the subpoenas also seek information into the activities of the Save America political action committee, the main political fundraising conduit for Trump since he left office, a new line of inquiry.
For months, associates of Trump’s have received subpoenas related to other aspects of the investigations into his efforts to cling to power. But the fact that the Justice Department is now seeking information related to fundraising comes as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack has raised questions about money Trump solicited under the premise of fighting election fraud.
The new round of subpoenas were issued for a wide range of people around Trump, from low-level aides to his most senior advisers.
The Justice Department has spent more than a year focused on investigating hundreds of rioters who were on the ground at the Capitol on Jan. 6. But this past spring, they started issuing grand jury subpoenas to people such as Ali Alexander, a prominent organizer with the pro-Trump Stop the Steal group, who helped plan the march to the Capitol after Trump gave a speech that day at the Ellipse near the White House.
Although it remains unclear how many subpoenas had been issued in that early round, the information they sought was broad.
According to a subpoena obtained by The New York Times, the subpoenas asked for any records or communications from people who organized, spoke at or provided security for Trump’s rally at the Ellipse. They also requested information about any members of the executive and legislative branches who may have taken part in planning or executing the rally, or tried to “obstruct, influence, impede or delay” the certification of the presidential election.
By early summer, the grand jury investigation took another turn as a flurry of subpoenas was issued to state lawmakers and state Republican officials allied with Trump who took part in a plan to create fake slates of pro-Trump electors in several key swing states that were actually won by Biden.
At least 20 of these subpoenas were sent out and sought information about, and communications with, several lawyers who took part in the fake elector scheme, including Giuliani and John Eastman.
About the same time, federal investigators seized Eastman’s cellphone and the phone of another lawyer, Jeffrey Clark, whom Trump had sought at one point to install as the acting attorney general. Clark had his own role in the fake elector scheme: In December 2020, he helped draft a letter to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, saying that the state’s election results had been marred by fraud and recommending that Kemp convene a special session of the Georgia legislature to create a slate of pro-Trump electors.
At least some of the new subpoenas also requested all records that the recipient turned over to the House committee investigating Jan. 6, according to a person familiar with the matter.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.