'No evidence' DOJ is investigating Trump for Capitol riot or election coup: WaPo report
Trump speaks at the "Stop the Steal" rally on Jan. 6. (Screenshot via YouTube.com)

The Department of Justice does not appear to be investigating former president Donald Trump for inciting the Capitol insurrection or for related pressure campaigns to overturn the results of the 2020 election, the Washington Post reported Saturday.

FBI agents "have not, for example, sought to interview or gather materials from some of Trump’s most loyal lieutenants about their strategy sessions at the Willard hotel on how to overturn the results of the 2020 election, according to participants in those meetings or their representatives," the newspaper reported.

"The department has not reached out to the Georgia secretary of state’s office about Trump urging its leader to 'find' enough votes to reverse his defeat, a person familiar with the office said, even as a local district attorney investigates that matter," according to the Post. "The Trump campaign has not received requests for documents or interviews from the FBI or Justice Department related to Jan. 6 or the effort to overturn the election results, and federal prosecutors have not sought to interview those with knowledge of Trump’s consideration of a plan to install an attorney general more amenable to his unfounded claims of massive voter fraud, according to people familiar with the matter."

Although Attorney General Merrick Garland recently vowed to hold everyone involved in the insurrection accountable, legal scholars, Democratic lawmakers and others have accused the AG of being too cautious.

Those who told the Post they have not been contacted by the FBI or DOJ thus far include at least at least 11 former Trump campaign and White House aides — seven of whom have been in contact with House Select Committee investigating the insurrection. A "Stop the Steal" rally organizer who spent six hours testifying before the select committee also said she has not received any requests from the DOJ or FBI. Former Vice President Mike Pence's office also has not received any requests, according to an aide.

Ditto for former NYC police commissioner Bernard Kerik, who was at the Willard hotel "command center," and Trump DOJ lawyer John Eastman, the author of a so-called coup memo, the Post reported.

DOJ officials have debated from the outset how to proceed with the investigation, according to the newspaper.

"At first, according to people familiar with the matter, a few prosecutors in the D.C. U.S. attorney’s office wanted to use subpoenas and search warrants to go after records of some rally organizers or speakers," the Post reported. "But the FBI, Justice Department officials and Michael R. Sherwin — who was appointed as the D.C. U.S. attorney during the Trump administration and continued to lead the probe after stepping down from that post — resisted the idea, arguing that they would be trampling on demonstrators’ First Amendment rights, the people said."

It's still possible that the DOJ is conducting an investigation of Trump in secret. And even if it's not, that doesn't mean it never will, the newspaper noted.

"Stanley Brand, a former U.S. House counsel who now represents some Jan. 6 witnesses and defendants, said the approach is standard," according to the Post.

“Like all Department of Justice investigations, they begin at the lower rungs,” Brand said. “But the difference here is the lower rungs are as wide as the ocean, and there’s no evidence yet of them investigating much above that.”

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