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Special counsel subpoenas research firm hired by Trump campaign


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Washington — A Rhode Island software company commissioned by Donald Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign to investigate claims of election fraud was subpoenaed by special counsel Jack Smith earlier this year, according to the firm’s founder.

Ken Block — a software engineer and politician who once ran for governor of the state  — confirmed that his company, Simpatico Software Systems, was hired by the Trump campaign and found over a dozen claims of election fraud presented to him by the campaign were false.

The existence of the subpoena and Block’s firm’s election findings were first reported by The Washington Post.

The data were shared with the special counsel, who is investigating the events surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack and efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, Block said.

Block says he founded Simpatico, a software engineering firm, 20 years ago. It designs computers for big corporations across the country and has also been hired to conduct public research on registered voter lists to determine if deceased people are still listed on voter rolls and whether ballots were cast in their names.

The day after the 2020 presidential election, a Trump campaign lawyer hired Simpatico to both “attempt to validate some pretty wild claims of voter fraud” and analyze voter data from across the country collected by the Republican National Committee, Block said.

He declined to provide any further details about his work with the Trump campaign or about his interaction with federal investigators because of the ongoing special counsel probe. However, speaking broadly, he said, “The claims that I deal with are the claims that have some basis in data. None of those claims have yielded anything close to fraud that could change an election.”

“I don’t believe I’ve seen any credible report of massive voter fraud ever,” Block said Friday in an interview with CBS News, explaining the data he examined have not turned up any substantive evidence of fraud that could have changed the outcome of an election.

And as for the more than a dozen instances of voter fraud alleged by the campaign, Block said, “Every fraud claim I was asked to investigate was false.”

When approached by federal investigators earlier this year who asked to speak with an attorney for Simpatico, the Rhode Islander said he responded, “I am accounts-receivable, janitorial, and legal. How can I help you?” and soon after fully complied with the subpoena from Smith’s office.

During an interview with the House Select Committee that investigated the Jan. 6 Capitol riot last year, a Trump campaign attorney confirmed that Simpatico was hired to try to “to verify some of the information that came in about categories of election fraud,” according to a transcript of the interview released by the committee.

“It’s very difficult within the timeframes of an election to be able to confirm to a level that would withstand judicial scrutiny whether or not someone voted twice or whether or not someone was deceased when they voted. There are issues with the data, and it’s hard to say with a high degree of certainty that certain things are verifiable,” the attorney, Alex Cannon, testified.

When pressed by committee staff about Simpatico’s findings, Cannon told investigators such information was privileged, the publicly released transcript revealed.

Block is a registered Republican who, after first founding the Moderate Party in Rhode Island, ran in the state’s GOP primary for governor in 2014. During the gubernatorial campaign, he was criticized for revealing that he had previously voted for Barack Obama and as a result, wouldn’t disclose who he voted for in the 2020 presidential election.

“It’s private information,” he said Friday.

A spokesperson for Trump did not immediately respond to CBS News’ request for comment, but told the Washington Post in its initial report, “This is nothing more than a targeted, politically motivated witch hunt against President Trump concocted to try and prevent the American people from returning him to the White House.”

Smith and his team of investigators have convened numerous grand juries in recent months, tasked with investigating efforts to subvert the Biden presidency. On Thursday, former Vice President Mike Pence testified for approximately seven hours, after an appeals court rejected Trump’s attempts to assert executive privilege over his testimony.

Other Trump aides and allies, including former national security adviser Robert O’Brien and White House advisor Stephen Miller, were spotted in recent months at the Washington, D.C. federal courthouse where the grand juries meet each week.

And last year, the special counsel subpoenaed election officials in Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin for communications with Trump, his campaign and several lawyers and allies associated with his 2020 presidential campaign, state officials confirmed.

Beyond the special counsel’s investigation, Block hopes his election data analysis will lead to “meaningful change that is not partisan.” He is now working to highlight inconsistencies in state laws concerning votes lawfully cast by individuals via mail who then die before Election Day.

“The experience of the voter is dramatically different depending on where they live,” Block said. “The voter experience should be largely the same and it’s not.”

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