The Justice Department has stepped up its criminal investigation into the creation of alternate slates of pro-Trump electors seeking to overturn Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the 2020 election, with a particular focus on a team of lawyers that worked on behalf of President Donald J. Trump, according to people familiar with the matter.
A federal grand jury in Washington has started issuing subpoenas in recent weeks to people linked to the alternate elector plan, requesting information about several lawyers including Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and one of his chief legal advisers, John Eastman, one of the people said.
The subpoenas also seek information on other pro-Trump lawyers like Jenna Ellis, who worked with Mr. Giuliani, and Kenneth Chesebro, who wrote memos supporting the elector scheme in the weeks after the election.
A top Justice Department official acknowledged in January that prosecutors were trying to determine whether any crimes were committed in the scheme.
Under the plan, election officials in seven key swing states put forward formal lists of pro-Trump electors to the Electoral College on the grounds that the states would be shown to have swung in favor of Mr. Trump once their claims of widespread election fraud had been accepted. Those claims were baseless, and all seven states were awarded to Mr. Biden.
It is a federal crime to knowingly submit false statements to a federal agency or agent for an undue end. The alternate elector slates were filed with a handful of government bodies, including the National Archives.
The focus on the alternate electors is only one of the efforts by the Justice Department to broaden its vast investigation of hundreds of rioters who broke into the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
In the past few months, grand jury subpoenas have also been issued seeking information about a wide array of people who organized Mr. Trump’s rally near the White House that day, and about any members of the executive and legislative branches who may have taken part in planning the event or tried to obstruct the certification of the 2020 election.
The widening and intensifying Justice Department inquiry also comes as the House select committee investigating the efforts to overturn the election and the Jan. 6 assault prepares for public hearings next month.