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Special counsel in Capitol riot probe seeks Trump records from Wayne County

Jan. 6 riot
A special counsel investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol has subpoenaed records from Wayne County. (Gallagher Photography / Shutterstock.com)
  • Jan. 6 investigator seeks Trump records from Wayne County
  • In addition to Michigan, subpoenas also issued in Wisconsin, Arizona
  • Trump’s team tried to replace Biden electors to overturn loss

LANSING — A special counsel investigating U.S. Capitol riots stemming from former President Donald Trump's attempt to overturn his 2020 election loss is seeking documents from Wayne County, the clerk’s office confirmed Tuesday.

Special Counsel Jack Smith, appointed last month by Attorney General Merrick Garland, issued a subpoena for county-level records in Michigan, Arizona and Wisconsin, according to new reporting by The Washington Post.

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Trump lost each of those swing states two years ago but attempted to persuade lawmakers and local officials to stop certification of Democrat Joe 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. 

A spokesperson for Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett confirmed that a subpoena was issued for records from her office but declined to release a copy to Bridge Michigan. 

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One of the new subpoenas, obtained by the Post, directed the Milwaukee County election clerk in Wisconsin to turn over any and all communications with Trump, his campaign, aides and allies. 

The subpoenas, the first issued by Smith, show the special prosecutor is extending the Justice Department probe “of the circumstances leading up to the Capitol attack to include local election officials and their potential interactions with the former president and his representatives," the newspaper reported.

A spokesperson for Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson confirmed knowledge of the Wayne County subpoena but said her office does not have a copy or know specifics about it.

County clerks in Wisconsin and Arizona told the Post they plan to comply with the federal subpoena.

The Wisconsin subpoena issued to Milwaukee County Clerk George Christenson requested any communications with Trump, his campaign team or attorneys, including Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell and John Eastman. 

Those are familiar names in Michigan, where Giuliani testified before state lawmakers in late 2020 and urged them to pick their own Electoral College electors to replace those legally pledged to Biden, who won Michigan by 154,188 votes. 

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 and instead recognize an "alternative slate" of electors the Trump campaign had organized. 

The so-called fake elector plot has caught the attention of federal law enforcement officials, who in June interviewed and subpoenaed at least one of the Republicans who participated in the scheme. 

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, has urged the federal government to prosecute the 16 fake electors for forgery after they signed a certificate falsely claiming Trump had won the state. 

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The alternative electors had contemplated "hiding overnight" in the Michigan Capitol to cast legally dubious votes when the Electoral College convened in late 2020, former state GOP Chair Laura Cox said in June congressional testimony.

By camping in the Capitol, the alternate electors hoped to comply with state law requiring they meet in the state Senate chambers on Dec. 14, according to Cox, who said someone working for the Trump campaign relayed the plan to her in advance.

"I told him in no uncertain terms that that was insane and inappropriate,” Cox told the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol.

More than a dozen Michigan residents have been charged with crimes related to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, where Trump supporters tried to block congressional certification of Biden's Electoral College win.

Failed Republican gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley, who is facing misdemeanor charges, on Tuesday asked a federal court to delay his trial while his legal team reviews evidence and explores "any potential plea offers."

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