Trump Counsel Questions Ex-Homeland Security Chief Over Bid to Overturn Election
(Bloomberg) -- Chad Wolf, former acting homeland security secretary, has been interviewed as part of a special counsel’s probe into efforts by Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election, according to a person familiar with the matter.
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Wolf sat for a four-hour recorded discussion under oath a few weeks ago with several FBI agents and Justice Department lawyers rather than appear before a federal grand jury, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.
The interview was conducted by representatives of Special Counsel Jack Smith, who was appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland to take over the probe in November, after former President Trump declared his candidacy for the White House in 2024.
The government questioned Wolf about where he was during the insurrection by Trump supporters at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Wolf didn’t have much to provide the special counsel’s team since he was out of the country before, during and after the event, the person said.
Wolf was asked about his department’s role before and after the 2020 election and whether it took any directions from the Trump campaign. Wolf told prosecutors there was no contact with the campaign. Prosecutors spent an hour or two asking questions about cybersecurity and what DHS was doing before and after the election to secure election infrastructure.
A spokesperson for the Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Wolf declined to comment.
A steady stream of former Trump administration officials have been spotted at the federal courthouse in Washington to testify before a grand jury as part of the election probe and another being led by Smith into whether Trump mishandled government documents that were found in his Mar-a-Lago home.
CNN previously reported appearances by former White House counsel Pat Cipollone and his deputy Patrick Philbin, former adviser Stephen Miller, former White House aide John McEntee, and Wolf’s former DHS deputy, Ken Cuccinelli.
Wolf was interviewed by the now-defunct House committee that investigated the insurrection and sent criminal referrals to the Justice Department regarding Trump and several others for efforts to overturn the 2020 election. His testimony covered the role DHS has in making sure election infrastructure was secure from cyber-attacks and foreign influence.
Wolf was also questioned about whether Trump interfered in the agency’s work after the election, when a division of DHS, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, signed onto a statement saying it was the most secure election in history.
Shortly afterward, Trump fired the former director of that agency, Christopher Krebs, in a tweet. Krebs has said that he was dismissed from the Senate-approved post because his team joined other security experts in refuting claims from Trump and his representatives that election machines were hacked.
Wolf was at the center of controversy in the summer when an independent watchdog reported that texts from Wolf and Cuccinelli were missing. The Project On Government Oversight said the department’s inspector general had been told that the data had been lost when Wolf and Cuccinelli’s government telephones had been “reset” after they left office.
--With assistance from Chris Strohm and Zoe Tillman.
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