The Justice Department stepped up its criminal investigation of a plan by President Donald J. Trump and his allies to create slates of so-called fake electors in a bid to keep Mr. Trump in power during the 2020 election, as federal agents delivered grand jury subpoenas on Wednesday to at least four people connected to the plan.
One of those who received a subpoena, according to two people familiar with the matter, was Brad Carver, a lawyer and official of the Georgia Republican Party who claimed to be one of Mr. Trump’s electors in the state, which was won by Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Another subpoena recipient was Thomas Lane, an official who worked on behalf of Mr. Trump’s campaign in Arizona and New Mexico, the people said.
A third person, Shawn Flynn, a Trump campaign aide in Michigan, also got a subpoena, according to the people familiar with the matter.
A fourth subpoena was issued to David Shafer, the chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, who also served as a fake elector for Mr. Trump.
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Mr. Shafer’s lawyer declined to comment. None of the other three men could be reached for comment about the subpoenas.
The issuance of new subpoenas was reported earlier by The Washington Post.
The fake elector plan is the focus of one of two known prongs of the Justice Department’s broad grand jury investigation of Mr. Trump’s multiple and interlocking attempts to subvert the election. The other has focused on a wide cast of political organizers, White House aides and members of Congress connected in various ways to Mr. Trump’s incendiary speech near the White House that directly preceded the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
This latest round of activity in the Justice Department’s inquiry came amid the House Jan. 6 committee’s high-profile hearings into Mr. Trump’s efforts to reverse the outcome of the election.
It also comes less than a month after an earlier round of grand jury subpoenas revealed that prosecutors were seeking information on any role that a group of pro-Trump lawyers might have played in the fake elector effort. Those lawyers included Rudolph W. Giuliani, John Eastman, Boris Epshteyn, Jenna Ellis, Kenneth Chesebro, James Troupis and Justin Clark. Although testimony to the House committee has presented evidence of the roles of some of them in the plan, including Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Eastman and Mr. Chesebro, it is not clear what role, if any, some of the others might have played.
The subpoenas, issued by a grand jury sitting in Washington, have also sought records and information about other pro-Trump figures like Bernard B. Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner and a longtime ally of Mr. Giuliani.
Many of the lawyers named in the subpoenas were also mentioned on Tuesday at the House select committee’s public hearing exploring Mr. Trump’s wide-ranging pressure campaign to persuade state officials to help him stay in office.
At the hearing, the committee for the first time directly connected Mr. Trump to the plan, introducing a recorded deposition from Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, in which she recounted how Mr. Trump called her and put Mr. Eastman on the phone “to talk about the importance of the R.N.C. helping the campaign gather these contingent electors.”
The first subpoenas in the fake elector inquiry were largely sent to people in key swing states who almost took part in the plan but eventually did not for various reasons. This new round of subpoenas appears to be the first time that Trump campaign officials were brought into the investigation, marking a small but potentially significant step closer to Mr. Trump himself.
The plan to create pro-Trump electors in states won by Mr. Biden was among the earliest and most expansive of several plots by Mr. Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the election. It involved lawyers, state officials, White House and campaign aides, and members of Congress.
The plan was developed as Mr. Trump and his allies sought to promote baseless assertions of widespread election fraud in key swing states and persuade state officials to reverse their certification of Mr. Biden’s victory. It aimed to have the pro-Trump slates in place by the time Vice President Mike Pence oversaw the official certification of electoral votes during a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021.
Mr. Trump and others close to him mounted a relentless effort in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6 to persuade Mr. Pence either to count the pro-Trump electors and hand Mr. Trump a victory in the Electoral College or to declare that the election was uncertain because competing slates of electors had been received in several states.
The idea was to buy Mr. Trump more time to pursue his baseless claims of fraud or potentially to send the election to the House of Representatives, where each state delegation would get a single vote. Because more delegations were controlled by Republicans than by Democrats, Mr. Trump could have won.
Adam Goldman and Glenn Thrush contributed reporting.
Source: The New York Times