Last week, a freshly indicted Steve Bannon told listeners on his radio show that the feds were, once again, coming for MAGA. The FBI had conducted 35 “raids” on Trump allies and GOP officials, he said.
At first, it was unclear what he was referring to. But recent reporting shows that Bannon, while getting the “raid” part wrong, underballed the total count.
Per multiple reports, FBI agents served nearly 40 people connected to Trump’s super PAC and the effort to create fake slates of electors with subpoenas last week, in some cases reaching to the high-ranking officials in the former administration.
The subpoenas suggest that federal prosecutors are examining Trump’s attempt to stay in office after losing the election not only as it concerned Jan. 6, but in its broader, fuller form: from the decision to claim that the election was fraudulent after Biden pulled ahead in key states, to the choice to create false slates of electors, and to the planning of rallies where Trump and others egged on crowds to pressure Mike Pence into unilaterally rejecting Biden electoral votes.
The subpoenas appear to follow the trail blazed by the Jan. 6 Committee, which in 2021 and the early months of 2022 issued its own batches of subpoenas to some of those who received them last week.
Only some of those who received the DOJ subpoenas have had their identities confirmed.
The FBI also, the New York Times reported, took a phone belonging to two Trump advisers: Boris Epshteyn, a co-commentator on Bannon’s podcast, and Mike Roman, a Trump adviser who made his name in the 2008 election by claiming that the “New Black Panther Party” was intimidating voters en masse.
Roman resurfaced in 2016 as a Trump adviser, and played a key role in the 2020 electors scheme by reportedly delivering false elector slates to Capitol Hill, where they were to be presented to Vice President Mike Pence.
The overall scope of the probe isn’t really clear at this point, though it seems to have two tracks: Trump’s PAC, Save America, and the fake electors scheme.
Other reports say that the subpoenas are seeking information about speakers at the Jan. 6 rally at the Ellipse, where Trump and others addresses supporters before they broke into the Capitol. Women for America First, the group that organized the rally, received a subpoena.
The fake electors scheme stands at the heart of Trump’s effort to overthrow the election, and saw the Trump campaign organize slates of fake electors in states across the country that it had lost. People signed documents falsely claiming that they had been selected as electors for the states in question, allowing, in the minds of Trump campaign attorneys, the states to either “recertify” them as the “real” victors of the 2020 election, or to give Mike Pence a way to “choose” them as the legitimate electors from the states.
It’s not clear under what statutes the investigation is proceeding.
Among those who received subpoenas were Bernie Kerik, the Rudy Giuliani associate, and Dan Scavino, Trump’s social media guru, and Stephen Miller, the Trump adviser.
The Times reported that the subpoena to Kerik came from the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office, and asked about the fake electors scheme.
Other recipients of the subpoenas are less well-known. William Russell, a special assistant to Trump, reportedly got one, as did Brian Jack, the Trump White House’s political director.
In a Monday night broadcast, Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson said that his producers had obtained a copy of one subpoena that went out to an unknown recipient.
He said that the subpoena asked for information about, among other things, “Any claim that the Vice President and/or the President of the Senate had the authority to reject or choose not to count presidential electors.”
Carlson added a list of names of those who he said had received subpoenas, including many members of the legal team that assembled around Trump to argue that the 2020 presidential election result should be overturned.