Special counsel Jack Smith has compelled at least two Republican fake electors to testify to a federal grand jury in Washington in recent weeks by giving them limited immunity, part of a current push by federal prosecutors to swiftly nail down evidence in the sprawling criminal investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
The testimony, described to CNN by people familiar with the situation, comes after a year of relative dormancy around the fake electors portion of the investigation and as a parade of related witnesses are being told to appear before the grand jury with no chance for delay.
That activity could signal that investigators are nearing at least some charging decisions in a part of the 2020 election probe, sources added. It also comes just as the special counsel’s office filed charges against former President Donald Trump for his handling of classified documents.
Prosecutors initially obtained documents and interviews last spring from many of the Republicans who signed false certificates to the federal government, asserting they were the rightful electors for Trump in seven battleground states won by Joe Biden.
Prosecutors have played hardball with some of the witnesses in recent weeks, refusing to grant extensions to grand jury subpoenas for testimony and demanding they comply before the end of this month, sources said. In the situations where prosecutors have given witnesses immunity, the special counsel’s office arrived at the courthouse in Washington ready to compel their testimony after the witnesses indicated they would decline to answer questions under the Fifth Amendment, the sources added.
Locking in witness statements
The compelled testimony has allowed the special counsel’s office to lock in witness statements and potentially information that other investigators who have looked at the aftermath of the 2020 election couldn’t obtain.
At least one other witness has spoken to investigators in the past two weeks outside of the grand jury with an agreement the person would be protected from potential prosecution, another source said.
At least half a dozen witnesses have testified before the federal grand jury in Washington over four days in the past two weeks, with many of the sessions focused on the fake electors’ plot orchestrated by attorneys assisting the Trump campaign in 2020. The numbers, profile of the witnesses and prosecutor tactics suggest a probe picking up its pace, several people familiar with the investigation said.