Federal investigators are interviewing witnesses about former President Trump’s conduct and reviewing his conversations with aides regarding the 2020 election as part of their criminal investigation, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Why is this important: It would mark a major escalation in the Justice Department’s investigation into efforts to nullify the 2020 presidential election. The reports came hours after Attorney General Merrick Garland declined to rule out Trump’s lawsuit.

  • Federal investigators would “pursue justice without fear or favor” into the events surrounding the U.S. Capitol riot or attempts “to interfere with the lawful transfer of power from one administration to another,” Garland said. BNC News tuesday.

For memory : There is no evidence that Trump himself is an investigation target, but “prosecutors are asking about him and his aides,” according to CBS News, which also reported on the Justice Department investigation.

Driving the news: Prosecutors have questioned witnesses testifying before a grand jury in recent days about conversations with Trump and his close advisers about “bogus voters,” according to multiple reports.

  • “People familiar with the investigation said investigators were reviewing the former president’s conversations and seized key aides’ phone records,” according to WashPost.

Enlarge: Two witnesses who were senior aides to former Vice President Mike Pence in the Trump administration, Marc Short and attorney Greg Jacob were among those interviewed, multiple outlets reported.

  • The focus of the questions on Trump was on issues such as a plan to thwart Congress’ certification of President Biden’s Electoral College victory on Jan. 6, 2021, according to The New York Times.
  • Short, Pence’s former chief of staff, confirmed Monday that he testified before the grand jury, but declined to comment further.

Meanwhile, the Jan. 6 House Select Committee focuses on Trump and everything he may have done to encourage or prolong the attack on Capitol Hill, piecing together stacks of transcripts and other evidence that could be used in federal prosecutions , notes Axios’ Mike Allen.

To note: Trump has repeatedly made false claims about the 2020 election outcome, including at a rally before the Capitol uprising on January 6, 2021, and also at an event on Tuesday night. But he always denied any criminal act.

  • Representatives for Trump and the DOJ could not immediately be reached for comment.

Go further… Former Trump attorney’s Jan. 6 phone seizure legal investigation: judge

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with new details.

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