Prosecutors in Atlanta investigating election interference by Donald J. Trump and his allies recently contacted two consulting companies that were hired by the Trump campaign in 2020 to research myriad claims of vote fraud but ended up finding no proof that significant fraud had occurred, according to people with knowledge of the investigation.
Despite the findings of the two companies, Simpatico Software Systems and Berkeley Research Group, Mr. Trump continues to this day to make false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, even though no credible evidence has emerged to support that and many of his election conspiracy theories have been debunked.
The interest in the companies and their work in Georgia and several other battleground states could be used by prosecutors to undercut claims by Mr. Trump and his allies that they had legitimate grievances about the election. The firms had previously been subpoenaed by federal prosecutors. The latest development regarding prosecutors in Atlanta was reported earlier by The Washington Post.
Fani T. Willis, the district attorney in Fulton County, Ga., is weighing an array of potential charges against Mr. Trump, including whether he violated state laws with his post-election phone calls to state officials, including a Jan. 2, 2021, phone call to Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, in which Mr. Trump said he needed to “find” 11,780 votes, or one more than his margin of defeat in the state. Ms. Willis is looking into a number of other post-election moves by the Trump team, including a plan to create a slate of fake electors pledged to Mr. Trump despite President Biden’s victory in Georgia. More than half of the electors have taken immunity deals.
A special grand jury that heard evidence in the case for roughly seven months recommended more than a dozen people for indictments, and its forewoman strongly hinted in an interview with The New York Times in February that Mr. Trump was among them. Ms. Willis will need to seek any indictments from a regular grand jury, and has indicated that she will do so in the first half of August.
Joyce Vance, a former federal prosecutor and law professor at the University of Alabama, said that Ms. Willis is probably interested in the companies’ failure to find significant fraud because it could help establish that Mr. Trump acted with criminal intent.
If Ms. Willis does bring charges, Ms. Vance said, she will have to prove “that Trump knew that he lost the election and was in essence not asking them to find legitimate votes, but asking them to steal votes for him.”
Both Ms. Willis’s office and the two companies declined to comment.
During the House Jan. 6 committee’s proceedings last year, several Trump aides and allies testified that it was clear that there had been no fraud sufficient to change the outcome of the voting.
One of the campaign’s lawyers, Alex Cannon, who was a contact point for Simpatico, told Mr. Trump’s son Eric around Thanksgiving 2020 that fraud claims coming in were largely unreliable, according to testimony Mr. Cannon gave to House investigators in their inquiry into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
Asked whether Eric Trump “expressed any dismay or concern about the conclusion that you were sharing with him,” Mr. Cannon said, “I think he was dismayed. I think that’s a fair characterization.” Mr. Cannon added that more senior campaign lawyers were “not surprised” that the vast majority of claims were unfounded.
By the time the slate of fake electors convened in Atlanta on Dec. 14, 2020, Mr. Trump had already lost three different counts of the vote and the state’s Republican leadership had certified the outcome.
Federal prosecutors, who are conducting criminal investigations of Mr. Trump independent of the Georgia inquiry, have also been focusing on whether Mr. Trump and his aides knew that he had lost the race but continued to use bogus claims of election fraud to raise money from Trump supporters, in potential violation of federal wire fraud statutes.
Ken Block, the owner of the Rhode Island-based Simpatico Software, has previously said that he received a subpoena for documents from federal prosecutors. Immediately after the election, he said, a Trump campaign adviser asked him to evaluate specific allegations of election fraud in six states — Georgia, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Nevada, Michigan and Wisconsin. Mr. Block said that his company disproved all of the allegations “and found no substantive fraud sufficient to overturn an election result.” His company was paid $735,000 for the work.
Soon after hiring Simpatico, the Trump campaign hired Berkeley Research Group, a California-based consulting firm that focuses on corporate finance and investigations. A federal grand jury has received evidence that Berkeley was hired at the suggestion of Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, who was overseeing the political operation.
In late April, The New York Times reported that the federal grand jury had been asking questions about whether Mr. Trump was briefed on the results of the Berkeley Research investigation, which also found no evidence of widespread fraud. The company was paid about $600,000 for its work, records show.
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