January 6 committee emerges to lay out roadmap to prosecute Trump

Prosecutors are reviewing Trump allies’ plan to create alternative lists of pro-Trump voters to undo Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in key swing states, with federal grand jury issuing subpoenas to the people involved. This investigation brings federal prosecutors closer to Mr. Trump’s inner circle than any other investigation. Mr. Trump also faces the threat of lawsuits from a local Georgia prosecutor investigating his efforts to overturn the state’s vote.

No current president or former president has ever been tried. Aaron Burr was charged with treason after stepping down as vice president in a highly politicized case led from the White House by President Thomas Jefferson, but was acquitted after a sensational trial. Ulysses S. Grant, then president, was arrested for speeding with his horse and buggy. Spiro T. Agnew resigned as vice president amid a plea bargain in a corruption case.

The closest indictment of a former president came after Richard M. Nixon resigned in the 1974 Watergate scandal, but his successor, Gerald R. Ford, short-circuited the investigation by preemptively forgiving him, believing that the country needed to move on. Mr. Clinton, to avoid perjury charges after leaving office, agreed on his last full day in the White House to a deal with Mr. Ray in which he admitted giving false testimony under oath about his affair with Monica S. Lewinsky, temporarily waived his law degree and paid a $25,000 fine.

If the Justice Department were to indict Mr. Trump, a trial would be very different from House hearings in ways that would affect the scope and pace of any investigation. Investigators would have to sift through thousands of hours of video footage and the full contents of devices and online accounts they accessed to find evidence to support their case, as well as anything a defense attorney could use to knock him down. Federal prosecutors would likely also have to convince appellate court judges and the majority of Supreme Court justices of the merits of their case.

Despite all the pressure the House committee put on the Justice Department to act, it resisted sharing information. In April, the department asked the committee for transcripts of interviews with witnesses, but the committee has not agreed to release the documents because its work is ongoing.

Although critics have blamed Mr. Garland, attorneys general generally do not lead the day-to-day work of investigations. Mr. Garland is briefed almost daily on the progress of the investigation, but it is led by Matthew M. Graves, the U.S. attorney in Washington, who works with national security and criminal division officials. Lisa O. Monaco, the assistant attorney general, is largely overseeing the investigation.

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