Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Jack Smith to serve as special counsel on Friday, Nov. 18. Just two work days later, the special counsel’s office issued new subpoenas — with an apparent focus on the fake-electors scheme related to the 2020 election — as part of the intensifying criminal investigation into Donald Trump.
As NBC News reported, it appears Smith is far from done.
Jack Smith, the special counsel appointed to investigate former President Donald Trump at the Justice Department, has issued a subpoena to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Raffensperger on Monday received a subpoena from Smith dated Dec. 9, a spokesman for his office said. His office had no further comment. The subpoena was first reported Monday by The Washington Post.
In case this isn’t obvious, there’s no reason to think the special counsel’s office suspects Raffensperger of any wrongdoing. Just the opposite is true: Smith and his team almost certainly want to hear from the Georgia secretary of state because of his interactions with Trump — who is suspected of wrongdoing.
If anyone needs a refresher, the trouble appeared to start in earnest on Jan. 2, 2021, when Trump called Raffensperger and told the Georgia Republican that he wanted someone to “find” enough votes to flip the state in the then-president’s favor, the will of the voters be damned.
As we discussed soon after, Raffensperger recorded the call, offering the public the opportunity to hear Trump, desperate to claim power he didn’t earn, exploring ways to cheat, begging others to participate in his anti-democracy scheme, and even directing some subtle threats at the state’s top elections official. By some measures, it was among the most scandalous recordings ever made of an American president.
It wasn’t long before some observers questioned whether such efforts were legal. Politico published a report noting that Trump’s antics “could run afoul of federal and state criminal statutes, according to legal experts and lawmakers.”
Evidently, the special counsel’s office is thinking along the same lines.
Meanwhile, we also confirmed yesterday that local officials in Nevada — another state where pro-Trump Republicans tried to participate in the fake-electors scheme — also received grand jury subpoenas, joining officials in Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Just to briefly follow up on an item from last week, when Garland tapped Smith with the difficult task of overseeing both of the Justice Department’s investigations into Trump, among the initial concerns was whether this would delay the process.
“Given the work done to date and Mr. Smith’s prosecutorial experience,” Garland told the public, “I am confident that this appointment will not slow the completion of these investigations.” Smith issued a statement of his own, adding, “The pace of the investigations will not pause or flag under my watch.”
I expressed some skepticism, acknowledging that getting a special counsel’s office up and running has, in the recent past, been a daunting challenge. Clearly, however, there’s every reason to believe that Smith has hit the ground running — which only adds to the former president’s many troubles.