Inside the unusually aggressive Arizona grand jury that indicted Trump’s allies

Betsy Woodruff Swan and Kyle Cheney


The Arizona grand jury that recently indicted 18 people for their roles in former President Donald Trump’s scheme to subvert the 2020 election cast a far wider net than state prosecutors had publicly foreshadowed.

The panel of 16 Arizonans displayed unusual independence from the prosecutors supervising the investigation, according to a rare inside look at the secret proceedings based on interviews with eight people familiar with the probe and documents signed by a top prosecutor.

The grand jury took aggressive steps to haul in witnesses and even brought charges against some who had been told by prosecutors they were not under investigation. It ultimately produced a 58-page indictment last month that charged national and state Republicans — including one of Trump’s current top advisers and several former members of his inner circle — with felonies for their alleged roles in the effort to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the state. Trump himself was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator.

Documents reviewed by  POLITICO  reveal that at least two of the 18 people charged — former Trump lawyers Jenna Ellis and Christina Bobb — were assured by prosecutors that they were not targets of the probe, only to learn that the grand jury indicted them anyway. In fact, a letter that a prosecutor sent to Ellis just days before the indictment appeared to significantly understate her legal jeopardy.

One witness who testified before the grand jury said a faction of the panel drove intense questioning that exceeded the limited scope that prosecutors had publicly acknowledged. The probe was led by the office of Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes.

Arizona law tightly restricts any discussion of grand jury proceedings, and most of the people interviewed by POLITICO were granted anonymity to describe the inner workings.


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May 2024