President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice has formerly opened a criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump regarding his actions during the January 6th Capitol riot, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.
It’s a stunning new development nearly 18 months after an angry mob fought with police and walked into the U.S. Capitol. The riot temporarily disrupted the certification of the Electoral College vote that sealed Biden’s victory over Trump in the 2020 election.
Trump has repeatedly claimed the election was rigged against him.
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Prosecutors are reportedly investigating Trump’s meetings and phone calls ahead of the riot, and prosecutors have begun to former Trump White House aides to testify in front of a federal grand jury.
The Department of Justice’s reported investigation is a dramatic escalation from the January 6th House committee hearings led by Democratic Party lawmakers.
The former chief of staff for Vice President Mike Pence, Marc Short, testified in front of the grand jury for hours on Friday. He was reportedly joined by former fellow aide Greg Jacob.
Short appeared before the grand jury after receiving a subpoena to do so, according to the Associated Press. The appearance was first reported by ABC News, which said it took place last week. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office did not immediately return a phone message and email seeking comment Monday.
On CNN Monday evening, Short confirmed the appearance, saying, “I did receive a subpoena for the federal grand jury and I complied with that subpoena.”
He said it was his “only appearance before the grand jury” but declined to speak further about the questioning.
It was not immediately clear what Short was asked during his grand jury appearance, but the Justice Department has been investigating wide-ranging efforts by allies of Trump to contest the results of the 2020 presidential election, including through the creation of slates of alternative electors in battleground states.
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Attorney General Merrick Garland told reporters last week that “no person is above the law” and described the investigation into the attack on the Capitol as the most important and most sweeping probe in the Justice Department’s history.
Short has also cooperated in a separate House committee investigation of the Capitol riot.
In video testimony played at one of the panel’s hearings last month, Short recalled that Pence had communicated to Trump “many times” that he did not agree with efforts to get him to overturn the election results, including by rejecting electors or by simply declaring Trump the winner.
Further information is unlikely to be readily available any time soon, as federal criminal investigations are designed to be secretive — especially those involving political figures. Most probes quietly end without criminal charges.
The Horn editorial team and the Associated Press contributed to this article