The attention of Special Counsel Jack Smith appears to have shifted somewhat from Florida back to Washington DC.
Smith wants to know how and precisely why Trump’s key election cyber security expert, Christopher Krebs, was fired.
The Special Counsel’s team subpoenaed witnesses about the events surrounding Krebs’s termination. The reason would seem obvious. Krebs said the election was secure and accurate.
It is a safe bet that the statement got Krebs fired.
But the people who carried out the termination — or those who decided to terminate Krebs — may have committed a crime.
To the extent Trump ordered the termination, the evidence would also go to his state of mind or “intent” as an element of a crime.
Thus the subpoena. The New York Times reports:
“The investigators appear focused on Mr. Trump’s state of mind around the firing of Mr. Krebs, as well as on establishing a timeline of events leading up to the attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6, 2021. The latest subpoenas, issued roughly two weeks ago, went to officials in the personnel office, according to the two people familiar with the matter.”
Krebs was fired on November 17th, 2021. Smith’s team would likely find the relatively early termination a key event on the timeline they seek.
It follows that the earlier Trump’s team implemented the plan, the more events could be considered obstruction of justice or another crime.
Reuters reported at the time of the termination that Krebs went so far as to issue a sharp rebuke, even bolded.
“There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes or was in any way compromised,”
The Times reported that the statement enraged Trump. It is easy to imagine.
Trump threw ketchup-filled plates against the wall after A.G. Bill Barr announced that the DOJ found no significant fraud, Business Insider wrote in 2022.
While Smith likely has a large team, there is something else noteworthy about these subpoenas.
Within the last month, most of the news regarding the Smith investigation pertained to the investigation of the classfied documents found at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
On May 23rd, The Wall Street Journal reported that Smith had largely finished up his work in Florida.
It is possible that Smith’s team sees the Florida matter as “done” or near enough and is now turning more attention to the January 6th matter.
No rule requires Smith to file both indictments on the same day.
Some on Twitter made a reasonable point. Subpoenaing witnesses involved in Krebs’s termination could easily be considered a waste of time.
There is already a triple “hamberder” load of evidence regarding Trump’s state of mind and intent.
I think it likely erroneous to imagine that Jack Smith is getting into Chris Krebs' firing JUST to get to Trump's mindset.
He fired Krebs for doing something his Admin had specifically bought off on. It was a necessary part of the plot. https://t.co/5MD2O3Zagr
— emptywheel (@emptywheel) May 31, 2023
Many who want to see Trump held accountable are frustrated by the amount of time the investigation is taking and are nervously looking at the calendar.
If the Special Counsel cannot get a trial and a verdict before the 2024 presidential election, Trump could, in theory, pardon himself without having established guilt in a jury trial.
For those concerned about the significant amount of time the investigation has taken, the ideal result would be a quick indictment in Florida. Meanwhile, members of the team could continue to establish a rock-solid case in Washington.
But any prediction as to how Smith will handle the matter, including whether Trump will be indicted at all, is pure speculation, though informed speculation.
No one outside Smith’s team knows what will happen next.
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @JasonMiciak.
Editor’s note: This is an opinion column that solely reflects the opinions of the author.