Timeline: Special counsel's probe into Trump's efforts to overturn 2020 election

Special counsel Jack Smith was tapped in November to oversee the Jan. 6 investigation.

ByKatherine Faulders, Alexander Mallin and Luke Barr ABCNews logo
Tuesday, August 1, 2023
Jan. 6 investigation closes in on former President Trump
The long-running investigation looks into a variety of schemes and efforts by Trump designed to help him cling to power even after he lost the election to Biden.

WASHINGTON -- Former acting U.S. attorney Jack Smith was appointed in November to oversee the investigation into efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Here is how the special counsel probe has unfolded.

Nov. 18, 2022

Attorney General Merrick Garland appoints Jack Smith as special counsel to oversee the entirety of the Justice Department's criminal investigation into the efforts to overturn the 2020 election, as well as the unlawful retention of national defense information at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate. The announcement is triggered when Trump's announcement that he is running for president for a third time creates a potential conflict of interest with the Justice Department.

Special counsel Jack Smith speaks to reporters Friday, June 9, 2023, in Washington.
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Smith previously served as the chief prosecutor for the special court in The Hague charged with investigating war crimes in Kosovo.

Nov. 22, 2022

Smith issues subpoenas to officials from multiple states that were targeted by Trump and his allies in the failed attempt to reverse his loss to Joe Biden.

According to a copy of a subpoena obtained by ABC News, the Justice Department seeks any and all records related to communications by state election officials with Trump or his advisers and allies, including Kenneth Chesebro, Justin Clark, Joe DiGenova, John Eastman, Jenna Ellis, Boris Epshteyn, Bernard Kerik, Bruce Marks, Cleta Mitchell, Matthew Morgan, Kurt Olsen, William Olsen, Stefan Passantino, Sidney Powell, Bill Stepien, Victoria Toensing, James Troupis and Lin Wood, between June 1, 2020, and Jan. 20, 2021.

Dec. 2, 2022

Former White House counsel Pat Cipollone and his deputy Pat Philbin testify before the federal grand jury investigating the events surrounding the Jan. 6, sources familiar with the matter tell ABC News.

Their appearances come after a judge rules against attorneys for Trump who had argued that testimony by Trump's former top White House aides was protected by executive privilege.

Then-President Donald Trump gestures as he arrives to speak at a rally in Washington, on Jan. 6, 2021.
Jacquelyn Martin

Dec. 13, 2022

ABC News reports that Smith has issued subpoenas to election officials in Georgia and New Mexico, including the secretary of state's offices in both states and officials in Georgia's Cobb County, for communications with or involving Trump, his 2020 campaign aides, and a list of Trump allies involved in his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Jan. 11, 2023

ABC News reports that multiple associates of Trump have received new, wide-ranging subpoenas from Smith, requesting documents and records far more expansive than the previous outreaches these individuals received from the Department of Justice before Smith's appointment.

Feb. 22, 2023

ABC News reports that Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, both former senior White House advisers, have been subpoenaed by the special counsel.

The special counsel seeks information from the couple specifically related to his probe of Jan. 6 and the activities leading up to that day by the former president and his allies, sources tell ABC News.

March 6, 2023

Trump is seeking to prevent the special counsel from using Cipollone and Philbin's testimony before the federal grand jury as evidence in his ongoing probe, sources tell ABC News.

April 20, 2023

Top Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn meets with special counsel prosecutors, sources tell ABC News.

Sources say that Smith personally sits in on a portion of Epshteyn's interview, but does not participate in any of the questioning.

FILE - The White House in the background, President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Washington, Jan. 6, 2021.
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File

April 27, 2023

A day after a federal appeals panel rejects an effort from Trump to prevent former Vice President Mike Pence from testifying in the special counsel's probe, Pence appears before the grand jury, sources tell ABC News.

April 28, 2023

A firm contracted by Trump's presidential campaign in November 2020 to investigate claims of voter fraud has been subpoenaed by the special counsel investigating those claims, the founder of the firm tells ABC News.

Ken Block, the founder of Simpatico Software Systems, says he was subpoenaed to turn over documents related to his work with the Trump campaign. His firm was the second one hired by the campaign that reported it found no widespread evidence of voter fraud.

June 6, 2023

ABC News reports that Trump's last White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has testified before the grand jury.

Sources say that Meadows answered questions on both Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election and Trump's alleged mishandling of classified documents while he was out of office.

June 8, 2023

Trump is indicted on federal charges related to the special counsel's parallel probe into the former president's handling of classified information after leaving office.

Five days later, Trump pleads not guilty to the 37-count indictment, which accuses him of repeatedly refusing to return hundreds of documents containing classified information ranging from U.S. nuclear secrets to the nation's defense capabilities.

ABC News Chief Legal Analyst Dan Abrams explains the Presidential Records Act.

June 26, 2023

ABC News reports that agents from the United States Secret Service have testified before the grand jury probing efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Sources say that agents provided testimony as part of the grand jury's probe into whether there were any crimes committed during the Jan. 6 attack.

June 27, 2023

ABC News reports that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is expected to sit for an interview with special counsel investigators.

Raffensperger, the top election official in Georgia, was the recipient of Trump's infamous phone call in January 2021, during which the then-president asked Raffensperger to "find" the exact number of votes he needed to win the state.

July 13, 2023

ABC News reports that among those who have testified before the grand jury are Trump's son-in-law and former White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, and former top Trump aide Hope Hicks.

July 16, 2023

Smith informs Trump by letter that he is a target in his investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

The letter, which sources say was transmitted to Trump's attorneys, indicates that an indictment of the former president could be imminent.

Special counsel Jack Smith has informed Donald Trump that he is a target in his investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election, say sources.

July 18, 2023

ABC News reports that special counsel prosecutors have contacted officials in Nevada, Wisconsin and Arizona as part of 2020 election probe.

Those contacted include Republican Doug Ducey, the former Arizona governor who Trump had pressured to overturn Arizona's results following the 2020 election, according to sources.

A Wisconsin Elections Commission spokesperson tells ABC News that the state's chief elections official met with federal investigators in April regarding the probe.

July 20, 2023

ABC News reports that at least one more witness, Trump aide Will Russell, is expected to appear before the grand jury.

July 27, 2023

Trump attorneys John Lauro and Todd Blanche meet with Smith's team as a potential indictment of the former president looms, sources tell ABC News.

The lawyers are there to make the case for why they believe Trump shouldn't be indicted. Smith is present for the meeting, sources say.

ABC News' Soo Rin Kim, Laura Romero, Lucien Bruggeman, Olivia Rubin and Will Steakin contributed to this report.