When the news broke two weeks ago that DOJ Special Counsel Jack Smith had subpoenaed Mike Pence to testify to a federal grand jury against Donald Trump, it generated a lot of confusion and false narratives. People wanted to know why the DOJ had waited this long to go at Pence. And of course we had to sit through the media’s usual false narratives about how Pence will simply “run out the clock” and Trump will magically get away with it all.
But back in the real world, that’s not at all how a federal criminal investigation works. You always start with the people at the bottom, who are usually eager to give up everything they know just so they don’t get in legal trouble themselves. Then you use that information as a basis for figuring out how to corner reluctant higher level witnesses. You keep moving upward until you have the highest level witnesses cornered. Then you force them to tell the real truth to a grand jury, and they know they can’t get away with lying to protect anyone, because you already know the truth.
So when the news broke that Pence was subpoenaed, it was a big clue that the DOJ is close to the end of the investigative and indictment phase of its Trump probe. For one thing, even though the news didn’t break until two weeks ago, it was reported that Pence had actually been subpoenaed the month before. And for all of Pence’s public bluster about how he’s supposedly going to fight the subpoena, the reality is that the courts tend to handle disputes over grand jury subpoenas rather swiftly (see Fulton County). In nearly all cases, any witness who challenges a grand jury subpoena still ends up having to swiftly testify; the court rulings merely define the scope of which questions have to be answered. Given how long ago Pence was subpoenaed, it’s probable that any legal challenges over his testimony are already over or mostly over.
More to the point, the witnesses closest to the situation (and the target) are subpoenaed last. So when the news broke that Jack Smith had subpoenaed Pence, we pointed out that there weren’t many more witnesses left who were closer to the situation than Pence – which means we were nearly at the end. But now the news has broken today that Jack Smith has also subpoenaed Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner to testify against Donald Trump to the grand jury.
This is not in any way surprising. Even when it came to the January 6th Committee probe, an arena in which subpoenas can be dragged out for years, Ivanka and Jared ultimately decided to testify against Trump rather than face potential legal consequences. So in the grand jury arena, where you either promptly comply with a subpoena or you promptly face legal consequences, it’s not surprising that Smith is pushing Ivanka and Jared to testify. If they’ve already quasi-volunteered useful testimony against Donald Trump to Congress, they’ll surely do the same in response to a grand jury subpoena.
The kicker is that Ivanka and Jared are, arguably, the only witnesses who are even closer to the situation (and closer to Donald Trump) than Mike Pence is. At this point it would be difficult to come up with any more names that Jack Smith could subpoena, at least in this 1/6 probe. Of course we’re about to hear a bunch of pundit nonsense about how Ivanka and Jared will somehow magically “run out the clock” on these subpoenas, even though that’s not how grand jury subpoenas work. But the reality is that they’ll have to swiftly testify – as will Pence – and we’re obviously very close to the end of the process.
Keep in mind that this “process” is the federal criminal indictment of Donald Trump. This isn’t for show. This isn’t for some mere report. This is the process of the DOJ hitting Trump with criminal charges. And it’s becoming clear that there will be charges against Trump on multiple fronts.
Even as Jack Smith plays out the endgame in his Trump 1/6 probe by putting Pence and the Trump family in front of the grand jury, Smith has also reportedly put three of Trump’s own attorneys in front of the grand jury in the classified documents probe. It’s becoming more obvious that the DOJ is gearing up to criminally indict Donald Trump on multiple fronts, and that these indictments will include witnesses who were the closest to his crimes.
At this point it’s a question of whether Jack Smith, Fulton County, or Manhattan will criminally indict Donald Trump first. All three are now reportedly in the grand jury indictment stage. All three are going to end up putting Trump on criminal trial.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report