The Department of Justice has asked the House panel for the transcripts of the interviews it’s been taking regarding the January 6th attack. The House panel has interviewed more than 1000 people so far and these transcripts can be utilized by the Justice Department as evidence for potential criminal cases.
This is the first indication that the DOJ may be pursuing those up the chain who helped plan or help in overturned the legitimate results of the 2020 election, including members of congress.
The request was initially rejected by the House panel chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss told the reporters that the DOJ request came this week, however, according to a person with knowledge on the matter, the lawmakers have yet to make a decision because they are conducting their own investigation. Thompson said, “It’s our work product. It’s the committee’s work product” and also said that the transcripts could be provided sometime in the future.
He said, “I mean, the reality is, we are conducting our own investigation. And obviously if they want to come and talk they’re perfectly welcome to come and talk and we have talked to them on other situations, but we can’t give them full access to our product. That would be premature at this point, because we haven’t completed our work.”
The House panel has no power to pursue criminal charges and according to the DOJ, these transcripts could be used to pursue new leads on Jan 6. Attack. The request indicates that the investigation has been escalated, since the DOJ is requesting for transcripts of the committee’s discussions with Donald Trump’s associates, however, didn’t specify which witnesses they sought. They just made a general request of providing transcripts of the previous interviews and of the future interviews the House will conduct.
The department’s investigation is on a totally different track than the panel’s. According to a person of knowledge related to inquiries, the investigators of each department don’t share any information, except ensuring if a witness is scheduled to appear before the different investigators at the same time.
So far, the DOJ has prosecuted more than 800 people related to the Jan 6 attack. However, their investigation has broadened in the past several months, focusing on the planning of the rally that preceded the actual event. The New York Times reviewed a subpoena that indicated that the DOJ is investigating the actions taken by rally planners. Prosecutors are seeking records of people who spoke or organized several pro-Trump rallies after the 2020 election, including those “VIP attendees” who were given security at those events.
They are also seeking records about executives members and legislative branches who might have participated in planning or running the rally, or attempted to, according to the subpoena, “obstruct, influence, impede or delay” the election certification.
Attorney General Merrick Garland and his aides have been quite careful in not disclosing their investigative methods and have continuously declined to comment on it. Earlier this year, Garland said, “The Justice Department remains committed to holding all Jan. 6th perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law – whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy.”
This request made by the DOJ, shows that they acknowledge the ground the panel has covered and given the situation, a well-staffed congressional investigation obtaining testimonies from several key witnesses before a grand jury investigation.
Not only key witnesses, but, they have also obtained testimonies from rally planners and some of the rioters. Last week itself, the House panel made a huge move by issuing subpoenas to five lawmakers last week, including GOP leader Kevin McCarthy. These lawmakers criticized the whole investigation, however, have declined to comment on whether they will participate in the interviews scheduled for the end of this month.