Fact Check

Were Trump's Secret Service Agents Called in To 'Testify Against' Him?

Several secret service agents were served subpoenas to appear before the grand jury investigating Trump's handling of classified documents.

Published April 4, 2023

Secret Service agents for Donald Trump were called in by a grand jury investigating Trump's handling of classified documents to "testify against" him.
What's True

Several secret service agents were served with subpoenas to appear before a federal grand jury investigating Trump's handling of classified documents, but ...

What's False

Clickbait headlines suggesting the agents were being compelled to "testify against" the former president presumed knowledge of testimony that was not public.

On April 2, 2023, The Washington Post reported that the federal investigation into Donald Trump's alleged mishandling of classified documents had "amassed fresh evidence pointing to possible obstruction" by the former U.S. president. The investigation, the Post reported, had become heavily focused on potential obstruction of justice charges:

The new details highlight the degree to which special counsel Jack Smith's investigation into the potential mishandling of hundreds of classified national security papers at Trump's Florida home and private club has come to focus on the obstruction elements of the case — whether the former president took or directed actions to impede government efforts to collect all the sensitive records.

The next day, Fox News' Bret Baier broke news that "several U.S. Secret Service agents connected to former President Trump have been subpoenaed and are expected to testify before a Washington, D.C., grand jury." As reported by Fox:

The grand jury appearances are related to Special Counsel Jack Smith's probe into the handling of classified documents at Trump's personal estate, Mar-a-Lago. A source familiar with the probe did not give a definitive number of agents involved, but confirmed the April 7 scheduled testimony.

In their coverage of this news, Newsweek and other publications described the development as Secret Service agents being called to "testify against" Trump:

As demonstrated in a single Keith Olberman tweet about the morning news-talk program Fox and Friends, this particular language was met with excitement from Trump's opponents and used as evidence of alleged prosecutorial overreach by his supporters:

Factually speaking, however, these agents were not being called to testify "against" Trump. They were being called to appear before a grand jury investigating Trump. As part of the grand jury proceedings, which are kept secret, government attorneys ask the witnesses questions.

As these attorneys were building a case against the former president, it is safe to say they were asking questions that had answers they thought could implicate Trump. However, another equally important part of the process is the grand jury's role in asking the witnesses questions.

These questions come from individuals selected through a random jury selection process who are tasked with assessing the credibility of a major charge against someone. As such, their questions could potentially compel Secret Service agents to provide answers inconsistent with the government's case. It was not known what these agents would be asked and what their testimony would reflect.

As such, it was inaccurate to suggest or predict ahead of time that they were being compelled to testify against Trump. However, it was known that "several" agents were scheduled to appear before this grand jury on April 7, 2023. For these reasons, the claim is rated "Mixture."


Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Handbook for Federal Grand Jurors. https://www.flmd.uscourts.gov/sites/flmd/files/documents/handbook-for-federal-grand-jurors.pdf.

Barrett, Devlin, et al. "Justice Dept. Said to Have More Evidence of Possible Trump Obstruction at Mar-a-Lago." Washington Post, 3 Apr. 2023. www.washingtonpost.com, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2023/04/02/trump-mar-a-lago-obstruction-classified/.

Becker, Kyle. "Secret Service Agents for Donald Trump Are Being Called to Testify Against Him." Becker News, 3 Apr. 2023, https://beckernews.com/secret-service-agents-for-donald-trump-are-being-called-to-testify-against-him-49801/.

Herlihy, Brianna. "Trump's Former Secret Service Agents to Testify in DC Grand Jury Friday in Documents Case." Fox News, 3 Apr. 2023, https://www.foxnews.com/politics/trumps-former-secret-service-agents-testify-dc-grand-jury-friday-documents-case.

Alex Kasprak is an investigative journalist and science writer reporting on scientific misinformation, online fraud, and financial crime.