Justice Department staffs team investigating attempts to reverse Trump’s loss by adding top corruption prosecutor who worked on Steve Bannon and Roger Stone cases

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A prosecutor well versed in politically charged cases is taking a more active role in the Justice Department’s investigation into attempts to reverse the 2020 election.Stefani Reynolds/TBEN via Getty Images

  • JP Cooney previously oversaw the prosecution of Trump allies Steve Bannon and Roger Stone.

  • The staff move offers another sign that the Justice Department is stepping up its investigation into Trump.

The Department of Justice has staffed its team investigating the January 6, 2021 Capitol attack and efforts to reverse the loss of then-President Donald Trump in the 2020 election, and added a federal prosecutor with experience in dealing with high-profile cases.

In an office-wide email Thursday, U.S. attorney Matt Graves said he had asked a leading corruption prosecutor, JP Cooney, to help with “some of the investigative efforts” in the Jan. 6 investigation, people known to have said. with the step to Insider.

The email did not address those investigative steps. But in a hastily convened meeting earlier Thursday, Cooney told his colleagues he would work with the team that includes Thomas Windom, who has emerged as a key prosecutor as the Justice Department’s role played Trump allies in the attempt. to reverse the rollback, has examined more and more critically. the electoral defeat of the former president, according to a person familiar with the internal discussions.

Graves, who was confirmed last year as the top federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., announced the move as part of a wider reorganization within the largest U.S. law firm in the country as it presides over the hundreds of cases arising from the siege. of the Capitol.

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The reorganization coincides with concerns over the Justice Department’s staffing capacity for an investigation that Attorney General Merrick Garland has described as the most comprehensive and most significant in law enforcement history. Speaking to reporters last week, Garland said the Justice Department “would always like to have additional funds and would be happy to take them, but we’re going to accomplish our mission here.”

“The Justice Department is committed to this. They are working on this 24/7,” he said.

The reshuffle in the US law firm in Washington, DC, will reshape the role of another top prosecutor overseeing the deluge of more than 800 cases related to the January 6 uprising.

John Crabb, who this year has doubled as head of the criminal division and a recently created section devoted to Capitol riot cases, is leaving the former role to focus more fully on the Jan. 6 investigation, according to people familiar with the staff relocations. In his email to staff Thursday, Graves said prosecutor Denise Cheung would replace Crabb as acting head of the office’s criminal justice department.

A spokesman for the US law firm, William Miller, declined to comment.

The recent reorganization of the US law firm in Washington is the latest indication of how the Justice Department is accelerating its investigation into attempts to undo the 2020 election — and approaching Trump.

In recent months, the Department of Justice has issued subpoenas as part of an investigation into the so-called “fake voters” scheme, in which Trump supporters gathered slates of alleged voters promised to Trump in crucial battlefield states where Joe Biden was the 2020 president. prevailed.

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More recently, prosecutors have directly asked witnesses about Trump’s involvement in efforts to reverse his election loss, an indication that the investigation is entering a more aggressive and sensitive phase. The questioning came on the heels of a series of public hearings where the House committee investigating the January 6 attack aired damning evidence linking Trump directly to efforts to prevent the peaceful transfer of power.

In recent years, Crabb and Cooney have overseen several politically sensitive prosecutions, including the recent Justice Department case against Trump’s longtime ally Steve Bannon. On Friday, Cooney was at the federal courthouse in Washington, DC, when a jury convicted Bannon on two charges of contempt of Congress arising from his opposition to the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 Capitol attack.

Cooney was also involved in the 2019 prosecution of Roger Stone on charges that he obstructed a congressional investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and tampered with a witness.

Following that conviction, two prosecutors withdrew from the case and a third resigned from the Justice Department completely after Attorney General William Barr intervened to overturn their proposed jail term and proposed a lighter sentence for the longtime Trump adviser. When a federal judge summoned prosecutors to explain the unusual shift in Stone’s case, Crabb appeared in court and defended the original sentencing recommendation.

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Stone was later sentenced to more than three years in prison. But Trump changed the sentence days before Stone was due to report to prison.

Cooney was also among the accusers who accused former FBI chief Andrew McCabe of lying to internal investigators about a media leak. Prosecutors ultimately declined to indict McCabe, a frequent target of Trump’s disdain who was fired in 2018 after the Justice Department inspector general found he showed a “lack of candor” in his dealings with the internal watchdog office.

The investigation into the attack on the Capitol and efforts to reverse the 2020 election have sparked renewed focus on Trump allies and former aides.

Last week, two top officials of former Vice President Mike Pence testified before a grand jury in Washington, DC, and the Justice Department issued search warrants and subpoenas against a growing number of figures associated with Trump and his attempts to rise to power. stay.

In June, federal investigators searched the home of Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official who put forth Trump’s baseless allegations of electoral fraud. Clark has since been charged with ethical violations by the largest licensing organization for attorneys operating in Washington, DC.

On the same days as the search of Clark’s Virginia home, federal agents in New Mexico seized the phone belonging to John Eastman, a conservative attorney who helped advise Trump on how to reverse his election loss.

On Wednesday, Windom revealed in a court filing that the Justice Department has since obtained a second search warrant that will allow investigators to review the contents of Eastman’s phone.

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