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Jack Smith delivers remarks on a recently unsealed indictment against former President Donald Trump
Jack Smith delivers remarks on a recently unsealed indictment against former President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C., on June 9, 2023.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Jan. 6 grand jury hears from Team Trump members as probe advances

Donald Trump is furious about the special counsel's investigation into the classified docs case, but Jack Smith's Jan. 6 probe is clearly advancing, too.


It’s understandable that Donald Trump and his allies have focused much of their rage of late on special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into the classified documents scandal. After all, the former president has been charged with 37 felony counts — which is the sort of thing that tends to get one’s attention.

But Smith’s other investigation is advancing, too. NBC News reported yesterday on G. Michael Brown, whose name might not be familiar, but who’s perspective is highly relevant.

The deputy director of Election Day operations for Donald Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign appeared before a federal grand jury Thursday as part of special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into Jan. 6 and efforts to interfere with the lawful transfer of presidential power.

If you were to go through the MaddowBlog’s archives, you’d find Gary Michael Brown’s name just once: In February 2022, we discussed the bipartisan Jan. 6 committee’s interest in the former Trump campaign aide, when congressional investigators sought information on what Brown knew about the fake electors plot.

Months later, his name appeared in the panel’s final report:

"By early January, most of the fake elector votes had arrived in Washington, except those from Michigan and Wisconsin. Undeterred, the Trump team arranged to fly them to Washington and hand deliver them to Congress for the Vice President himself. 'Freaking trump idiots want someone to fly original elector papers to the senate President...' Wisconsin Republican Party official Mark Jefferson wrote to Party Chairman Hitt on January 4th. Hitt responded, 'Ok I see I have a missed call from [Mike] Roman and a text from someone else. Did you talk to them already? This is just nuts....' The next day, Trump Campaign Deputy Director for Election Day Operations G. Michael Brown sent a text message to other campaign staff suggesting that he was the person who delivered the fake votes to Congress."

It helps explain why the House select committee concluded that it had “credible evidence” that Brown was “aware of, and participated in, efforts to promote unsupported allegations of fraud in the November 2020 Presidential election and encourage state legislators to alter the outcome of the November 2020 election by, among other things, appointing alternate slates of electors to send competing electoral votes to the United States Congress.”

This is the Brown who appeared yesterday before Smith’s Jan. 6 grand jury.

He’s hardly alone. As my MSNBC colleague Jordan Rubin recently noted, it was just 10 days ago when Nevada GOP Chair Michael McDonald, a close Trump political ally, as well as Jim DeGraffenreid, the state party’s vice chair, were also seen entering the room where the Jan. 6 grand jury is meeting. Both were among Trump’s fake electors in the wake of his 2020 defeat.

CNN reported today that the special counsel’s office “compelled” McDonald and DeGraffenreid to testify “by giving them limited immunity,” but that detail hasn’t been independently verified by MSNBC or NBC News.

The week before that, the federal grand jury subpoenaed far-right media personality Steve Bannon, who seemed to have insights into what would happen on Jan. 6 before the attack on the Capitol occurred.

I’m not prepared to make any predictions, and it’s certainly possible that this aspect of Smith’s investigation won’t lead to any new criminal charges for the former president.

But as the probe advances, and knowledgeable witnesses appear before the grand jury, Trump has every reason to be nervous.