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DOJ subpoenas Michigan Secretary of State's office as it continues probe into Jan. 6

Detroit Free Press logo Detroit Free Press 12/8/2022 Arpan Lobo, Detroit Free Press
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The Department of Justice sent a subpoena to Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office this week as it continues its investigation into former President Donald Trump’s efforts to undermine the 2020 election.

The Associated Press was first to report the subpoena, which was issued Wednesday. Details were sparse, but it comes on the heels of a separate subpoena the DOJ issued to Wayne County election officials late last week. The subpoenas come as appointed special counsel Jack Smith investigates the Jan. 6 insurrection, when supporters of Trump attempted to storm the U.S. Capitol to prevent the certification of the 2020 presidential election.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson speaks to reporters during a press conference after election polls close in Michigan at Cadillac Place in Detroit on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. Benson's office confirmed it was subpoenaed Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, by the U.S. Department of Justice in connection to an investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. © Sarahbeth Maney, Detroit Free Press Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson speaks to reporters during a press conference after election polls close in Michigan at Cadillac Place in Detroit on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. Benson's office confirmed it was subpoenaed Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, by the U.S. Department of Justice in connection to an investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Through a spokesperson, Benson confirmed the subpoena’s existence, but added “(t)he Department of Justice has asked that we not disclose the contents of the subpoena to prevent harming the investigation and we will honor that request.”

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"Secretary Benson continues to support agencies investigating and seeking accountability for those who attempted to overturn the 2020 election," Michigan Department of State spokesman Jake Rollow added, when asked if the subpoena was necessary given Benson's previous pledge to work with investigators looking into efforts to undermine the 2020 election.

"Our office has been in regular contact with investigators working on this and we will continue to provide information they request or that we believe could be of interest."

The DOJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Free Press on Thursday.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Smith, who also has issued subpoenas in several other battleground states where Trump lobbed unfounded claims of voter fraud, the Washington Post reported. Wayne County officials confirmed the county was subpoenaed late last week, but declined to share details of the subpoena.

More:Wayne County subpoenaed by Justice Department special counsel investigating Jan. 6

Efforts to undermine election results in Michigan include a bevy of unsuccessful lawsuits and an attempt to have fake electors sign false documents to give Michigan’s electoral votes to Trump instead of President Joe Biden, who won the state by more than 154,000 votes.

Audits done by Benson’s office refute claims of election fraud in Michigan during the 2020 election. A report compiled by a panel led by Republicans in the Michigan Senate also rejected claims of voting irregularities in the state.

Smith is overseeing the Justice Department’s investigation “into whether any person or entity unlawfully interfered with the transfer of power following the 2020 presidential election or the certification of the Electoral College vote held on or about January 6, 2021,” according to a press release announcing his appointment.

Staff writer Clara Hendrickson contributed to this report. Contact Arpan Lobo: alobo@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @arpanlobo.

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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: DOJ subpoenas Michigan Secretary of State's office as it continues probe into Jan. 6

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