Trump aide targeted by FBI in election coup investigation: report

On Wednesday, The New York Times reported that the FBI sought to interview a personal aide to former President Donald Trump as part of their investigation into events leading up to the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

"This week, F.B.I. agents in Florida tried to interview William S. Russell, a 31-year-old aide to Mr. Trump who served as a special assistant and the deputy director of advance in the White House and continued to work for Mr. Trump as a personal aide after he left office, one of a small group of officials who did so," reported Adam Goldman and Maggie Haberman. "It was not immediately clear what questions the F.B.I. wanted to ask Mr. Russell; people familiar with the Justice Department’s inquiry said he has not yet been interviewed. But a person with knowledge of the F.B.I.’s interest said that it related to the grand jury investigation into events that led to the Capitol attack by Mr. Trump’s supporters."

"That investigation is said to have focused extensively on the attempts by some of Mr. Trump’s advisers and lawyers to create slates of fake electors from swing states," said the report. "Mr. Trump and his allies wanted Vice President Mike Pence to block or delay certification of the Electoral College results during a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6 to allow consideration of Trump electors whose votes could have changed the outcome."

According to the report, Russell's attorney did not offer comment on the matter.

"It was not immediately clear which of Mr. Trump’s other aides the Justice Department may be interested in interviewing. Last week, the former White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, and his former deputy, Patrick Philbin, testified before the grand jury investigating the fake elector scheme and related issues," the report continued. "Both Mr. Cipollone and Mr. Philbin were present during key conversations in the White House as Mr. Trump sought to use the levers of the federal government to stay in office after his loss to Joseph R. Biden Jr."

The plot to overturn the election, outlined by Trump attorney John Eastman in an infamous memo, involved convening slates of fake electors in states Biden carried, then pressuring Pence to use those fake electors as a pretext for refusing to count the real ones during the ceremonial elector count in Congress and declaring Trump the winner.

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