Trump documents: DOJ subpoenas Wisconsin election officials

The U.S. Department of Justice has probed the Trump campaign's communications with election officials in Milwaukee and Dane counties, as well as in other states.

Jack Smith, the newly appointed special counsel, has also subpoenaed clerks in Arizona, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. The probe is seeking all communications to, from and about the former president, his campaign and his campaign attorneys and allies.

The subpoena particularly lists communications with people such as Rudy Giuliani and Jim Troupis, the attorney who lead Trump's recount efforts in Wisconsin and then fought the results in court.

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Milwaukee County Clerk George Christenson said the subpoena was, to him, a surprise; the special counsel had not called before. He said he expects to meet the Friday deadline to turn over the documents and then won't have to appear in front of a grand jury.

"Aside from Mr. Troupis, I would have to rely on our search to find out," Christenson said. "I can tell you I don't remember anything from Rudy Giuliani or Sydney Powell – I think I would have recalled that, get that information out there."

DOJ subpoena issued to Milwaukee County clerk

Statement from Christensen:

"I can confirm that my office received a subpoena for the documents involving correspondence from Former President Trump, his campaign, and his aides. I am working with the Office of Corporation Counsel to provide a complete and prompt response to this request. There is speculation that the subpoena concerns the matters involving fake electors, as well as the January 6 insurrection. I am supportive of this investigation as it is important that the due process of law takes its course for the sake of our Nation and its democratic institutions." 

Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell said he received a similar subpoena on Dec. 1, asking for communications he had with "the gang of people you would sort of expect."

McDonell said the only person on the list that his office had interaction with was Troupis, and that he didn’t expect his response to the subpoena to reveal anything that "hasn’t been covered in the past."

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"I don’t have any stories of Trump calling me at dinner like the other guys," McDonell said.

Also on the subpoena list is Cleta Mitchell. She was a partner at Milwaukee-based Foley & Lardner but resigned on Jan. 5, 2021 after she joined a call between Trump and Georgia's secretary of state. The Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation now lists Mitchell as its secretary.

DOJ probe

Smith was appointed to serve as special counsel and investigate two matters:

  1. Whether anyone or any group interfered with the transfer of power after the 2020 election or its certification on Jan. 6, 2021.
  2. The ongoing investigation into classified documents held at the former president's Mar-a-Lago estate.

The requests, issued to Milwaukee and Dane counties in Wisconsin; Wayne County, Michigan; Maricopa County, Arizona; and Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, are the first known subpoenas by Smith, who was named special counsel last month by Attorney General Merrick Garland.

The subpoenas, some of which were first reported by The Washington Post, are the clearest indication yet that Smith’s work will include an examination of the fake electors that were part of Trump’s efforts to subvert the election count and certification. All of the states where requests were sent are states that Trump and his allies targeted as they tried to overturn the democratic vote.

In Pennsylvania, for instance, Trump’s campaign sued unsuccessfully in court to try to overturn President Joe Biden's victory, and his allies organized a Trump slate of electors to send to Congress. Trump and his allies also repeatedly contacted top Republican lawmakers, at times asking about using the GOP-controlled legislature to give lawmakers the power to overturn the election. They refused.

In Michigan, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson confirmed that Wayne County had received a subpoena from Smith but did not provide additional information on what it was seeking.

"We welcome and support the work of any law enforcement agency working to ensure full accountability for efforts to illegally overturn the fair and accurate results of Michigan’s 2020 election," Benson said in a statement sent to The Associated Press.

Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Michigan centered on Detroit’s convention hall, which is located in Wayne County. Trump falsely claimed poll workers there "were duplicating ballots," and an unsuccessful lawsuit by his campaign on Election Day forced election workers to temporarily halt the tallying of votes in the state’s largest city.

Another lawsuit was filed by several attorneys, including Trump allies Powell and L. Lin Wood, after the 2020 election on behalf of six Republican voters who wanted a federal judge to decertify Michigan’s results and impound voting machines. The judge declined, calling the request "stunning in its scope and breathtaking in its reach."

Trump and his allies also focused on voting machines in Antrim County, which is located just north of Detroit. Republican attorney general candidate Matthew DePerno, who lost to Democratic incumbent Dana Nessel in the 2022 midterms, sued Antrim County, claiming voting machines there recorded votes for Trump as being for Biden. A Michigan special prosecutor is currently reviewing whether to criminally charge DePerno and others for attempting to gain access to voting machines after that election.

Angela Benander, a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of State, said the department wasn't aware of any other counties being issued subpoenas from Smith.

In Arizona, Maricopa County also received a subpoena and will comply, said county spokesperson Fields Moseley.

The county, which includes the Phoenix area and more than 60% of Arizona voters, had been a centerpiece of Trump’s efforts to overturn the election and cast doubt on the results.

Trump allies tried to pressure Republicans on the county board of supervisors not to certify his loss in 2020, and when they did so, continued trying to reach them as Congress prepared to tally the electoral votes on Jan. 6. Clint Hickman, then the chairman of the board, dodged calls from the White House operator, who left voicemails saying the president was trying to reach him.

In Pennsylvania, Allegheny County, the state’s second-most populous and home to Pittsburgh, received a subpoena as well, a spokesperson confirmed.

A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment Tuesday.

In addition to the DOJ, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has also been investigating whether Trump and his allies illegally tried to interfere in the 2020 election in Georgia.

The Associated Press' Scott Bauer and Jill Colvin.