Former US Attorney Bill Barr said the federal grand jury subpoenas regarding the January 6 Capitol riots offer a “close look” at Donald Trump and “the people immediately surrounding him.”
In an interview with CBS News on Friday, Barr also described the delivery of the subpoenas as a “significant event.”
Last week, the federal grand jury investigating the January 6 rebellion in the US Capitol summoned former White House counsel Pat Cipollone and his senior deputy Patrick Philbin, suggesting an extensive investigation by the US Department of Justice.
Mr Cipollone was also part of the legal team that defended Mr Trump in his first House impeachment trial in 2020.
This recent grand jury activity indicates that prosecutors are viewing the former president’s close advisers as potentially important witnesses.
“It does suggest to me that they are getting a good look at the group at the top, including the president and the people right around him who were involved in this,” Barr said.
The former US attorney general is widely seen as one of Trump’s most loyal administrative officials.
But he criticized the former president’s actions on January 6, calling allegations that the 2020 election was rigged as “*** bulls”.
The grand jury met once a week, with Mark Short – former Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff – who testified in late July, and Greg Jacob, Pence’s chief adviser, was also interviewed, according to the Washington Post.
In the investigations, prosecutors are reported to be investigating the connections of those close to Mr. Trump and his re-election campaign.
While both Cipollone and Philbin were privy to private conversations with Mr. Trump, executive privilege could protect the president’s ability to obtain candid counsel from advisers without fear of immediate public disclosure.
When Cipollone was interviewed privately by a separate House committee last month, he declined to discuss his conversations with Mr. Trump, citing executive privilege.
But Barr suspects prosecutors may “try to get a ruling on the issue of executive privilege.”
“That’s kind of the biggest mountain they can climb, and the fact that they’re driving that to me suggests that they want an eventual solution – not just on Cipollone – but you know, that’s going to affect [former White House chief of staff Mark] “The promoter and some other people, too,” said Mr. Barr.