Watch CBS News

Justice Department subpoenas county election officials for Trump communications

Special counsel Jack Smith has subpoenaed local election officials in Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin for communications with former President Donald Trump, his campaign and several lawyers and allies associated with his 2020 presidential campaign.

The requests are dated Nov. 22, according to election officials in Maricopa, Dane, Allegheny and Milwaukee Counties, who confirmed the request for documents to CBS News. These subpoenas mark some of the first issued by Smith, who was appointed last month by Attorney General Merrick Garland to oversee the investigation into events surrounding the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection and Mr. Trump's handling of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate.

Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell, of Wisconsin, confirmed that he received a subpoena. 

He told CBS News his office would comply with the subpoena by the end of the day. McDonell says his only interaction with the Trump campaign was Jim Troupis, a lawyer who ran the former president's recount effort in Wisconsin.

"We had someone transcribe all [communications] during the recount, so there's some things in there that potentially might be of interest," said McDonell. "I don't know. But it's not new."

California Congressman Adam Schiff told reporters he's encouraged by the action taken by the special counsel already. He believes the speed at which Smith is acting indicates that he's working with the team at the Justice Department that has been working on the cases, so investigators won't have to "start from scratch." He added, "It also signals the special counsel is particularly interested, I think, in the fake elector plot, that is in these key battleground states, Donald Trump and others, organizing this scheme to get people to put forward fake certificates of electors in the hope of stopping the joint session or at least delaying the result."

Fields Moseley, a spokesman for Maricopa County, also confirmed to CBS News, "We have received a subpoena and will comply." Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, spokesperson Amie Downs said the county's elections division has received a similar subpoena from the special counsel. 

Election officials said the request essentially works the same way as a Freedom of Information Act request but is obviously "ordered by the court." All three county officials expressed their willingness to comply immediately. 

Eddie Cullen, spokesperson for Milwaukee County, confirmed receipt of the subpoena, and Milwaukee County Clerk George Christenson plans to hold a news conference later Tuesday afternoon. 

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson confirmed that Wayne County had been issued a subpoena. 

The Washington Post was first to report the subpoenas.  

Rebecca Kaplan contributed to this report.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.