- The Justice Department’s Jan. 6 investigation continues to focus on former President Donald Trump.
- CNN reported Thursday that the agency is bracing for a legal battle over compelled testimony about Trump.
- AG Merrick Garland said this week that he would not rule out indicting Trump on January 6, 2021.
The Justice Department wants Trump White House officials to testify to the former president’s conversations on and around January 6, 2021 — and they’re ready to go to court to make that happen, according to CNN.
The outlet reported on Thursday that people briefed on the matter said federal prosecutors are bracing for a legal battle to force former Trump administration officials to testify in its sweeping Jan. 6 investigation. The agency’s apparent preparedness is the latest sign that DOJ investigation focuses on Trump’s conduct linked to efforts to cancel the 2020 elections.
The Justice Department anticipates that Trump will claim executive privilege in order to conceal evidence from the federal grand jury, CNN reported, and prosecutors are preparing to fight in court.
A Trump spokesperson did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
News of the DOJ’s planning comes two days after several media reported that the agency’s investigation has increasingly focused on Trump’s actions following his loss to President Joe Biden.
Two people familiar with the matter said The Washington Post that investigators before a grand jury questioned recent witnesses about conversations with Trump, his attorneys and allies. Prosecutors investigated meetings the former president held in December 2020 and January 2021; his tries to convince Vice President Mike Pence failing to certify election results; and the level at which Trump is involved in his lawyers scheme of fake voters.
The Justice Department investigation — which is separate from the House Select Committee investigation into Jan. 6 — has been closing in on Trump for months, according to The Post, which reported that federal investigators in April had obtained tapes phones belonging to top Trump administration officials and aides, including former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
A court battle over executive privilege, however, would quickly and publicly escalate the investigation.
The Ministry of Justice has in the face of growing criticism for its slowness in the investigation, especially since the congressional committee television hearings revived public interest in the insurgency in recent weeks. But the agency’s alleged preparedness indicates the caution prosecutors are taking to navigate the predicament of investigating a former president for his behavior while in office, CNN noted.
No former president has ever been criminally charged in the history of the United States. But Attorney General Merrick Garland suggested this week that he was not ruling out charging Trump for his role in the attack.