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Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to comply with subpoena in Jan. 6 probe

Jocelyn Benson
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said she was subpoenaed by a special counsel investigating Trump campaign connections to the 2021 riots at the U.S. Capitol. (Courtesy of the State of Michigan)
  • Special counsel subpoenaed the Michigan Secretary of State this week
  • Benson confirmed receipt and plans to comply
  • Probe focuses on events leading up to Jan. 6 insurrection

LANSING — A special counsel has subpoenaed Michigan's top election official as part of the investigation into former President Donald Trump’s connection to riots at the U.S. Capitol, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson confirmed. 

In a statement, Benson said her office was served a subpoena on Wednesday, one day after news broke that special counsel Jack Smith was also seeking records from Wayne County.

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"The Department of Justice has asked that we not disclose the contents of the subpoena to prevent harming the investigation and we will honor that request," said Benson, a Democrat. 

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She has been critical of former Trump's attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss, which culminated with supporters breaking into the U.S. Capitol on Jan 6, 2021, in an attempt to stop congressional certification of Joe Biden's Electoral College win. 

Benson plans to comply with the investigative subpoena, spokesperson Angela Benander told Bridge Michigan. 

Smith, appointed last month by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, previously issued subpoenas for county-level records in Michigan, Arizona and Wisconsin, The Washington Post first reported Tuesday. 

Trump lost each of those swing states two years ago but attempted to persuade lawmakers and local officials to stop certification of Biden's win. The former president personally contacted Republican canvassers in Wayne County who tried to revoke their votes that certified Detroit-area election results. 

It's not immediately clear what information Smith is seeking from the Michigan Secretary of State or Wayne County, where Clerk Cathy Garrett's office confirmed the subpoena but declined to make public a copy. 

A subpoena issued to the Milwaukee County election clerk in Wisconsin sought any and all communications with Trump, his campaign, aides and allies, including attorneys Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell and John Eastman. 

Giuliani testified before a Michigan House committee in late 2020, urging state lawmakers to pick their own Electoral College electors to replace those legally pledged to Biden, who won Michigan by 154,188 votes. 

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Powell filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the Michigan election and was later sanctioned by a state judge for the "frivolous" litigation. Eastman authored a memo for Trump claiming Vice President Mike Pence could reject official electoral college votes from Michigan and other states.

The Eastman memo laid the groundwork for a fake elector plot that has caught the attention of federal law enforcement officials, who in June interviewed and subpoenaed at least one of the Republicans who signed a certificate falsely claiming Trump had won the state. 

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, has urged the federal government to prosecute the 16 fake electors for forgery.

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