Special counsel examines 2020 meeting where Trump was briefed on U.S. election system's integrity


The special counsel’s office has inquired about a White House briefing on Feb. 14, 2020, at which federal officials assured then-President Donald Trump of the security and integrity of the U.S. election system, according to people familiar with the matter.

Three sources said they were interviewed by the special counsel’s office about the White House meeting with Trump. Two of those sources were at the White House meeting.

In the briefing, officials from multiple agencies — including the FBI, Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) — laid out why it’s extraordinarily difficult for hacking or fraud to change the results of a U.S. election.

Trump was receptive to the message and spoke about holding a news conference on the topic, though he never did, two people familiar with it said. The two sources said they have been interviewed since May by the special counsel’s office, which is investigating efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

As director of CISA, Chris Krebs focused on U.S. election infrastructure nationwide and efforts to stop any foreign government interference or hacking of the voting system. While he was in charge, the agency released a “rumor control” website that debunked some of the false election conspiracy theories that Trump spread after losing the 2020 election.

Krebs was interviewed by the special counsel’s office, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Krebs was notably at odds with Trump in the aftermath of the 2020 election because Krebs insisted that the voting systems were protected. On Nov. 12, 2020, CISA issued a joint statement with other election security groups calling the election “the most secure in American history.”

“There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised,” the statement said.

Trump fired Krebs by tweet five days later.

The special counsel’s interest in the election integrity briefing was first reported by CNN. The special counsel’s office declined to comment.

The briefing came the day after a congressional meeting, where Shelby Pierson, the head of election security for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), told members of the House Intelligence Committee that Russia preferred Trump in the 2020 election.

As NBC News and others reported at the time, that briefing became a contentious affair. Republicans in particular took issue with Pierson’s presentation. That meeting led to Trump firing his acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, and replacing him with Richard Grenell, a loyalist.

In 2021, ODNI published a declassified summary of foreign threats to the 2020 election, which found that Russian President Vladimir Putin had formally authorized several influence operations that worked to denigrate Joe Biden’s candidacy, but that there were no successful compromises of election infrastructure.

The special counsel’s office also continues to examine the role of the “fake electors” after the 2020 election.

At least two more of those individuals have been subpoenaed by the grand jury probing the matter, a person with knowledge of the investigation told NBC News.

The electors are to appear in early August before the grand jury convening in Washington and have not previously testified before it, the person said.

The individuals were among slates of false electors across seven battleground states, most of whom signed documents purporting that Trump had won in those states, even though he had lost. Last month, two electors from Nevada testified before the same grand jury. Dozens of witnesses have testified before the Washington grand jury.

The grand jury is investigating Trump’s actions surrounding the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, and in connection with efforts to interfere with the peaceful transfer of power.

The new subpoenas call for testimony about the alleged scheme after Trump posted on Truth Social that he had received a letter from the Department of Justice indicating he was a target of the federal investigation.