DOJ asks Jan. 6 committee for its transcripts
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has asked the Jan. 6 House committee to turn over some transcripts of depositions it has conducted as part of its investigation into the attack on the Capitol, even as the chair warned they would not receive “unilateral access.”
According to the Times, Kenneth Polite Jr., the assistant attorney general for the criminal division, and Matthew Graves, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, wrote to the panel’s investigative lead on April 20, saying the committee has conducted interviews that “may contain information relevant to a criminal investigation we are conducting.”
Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) confirmed the request to reporters Tuesday, but said he was not sure what information DOJ wanted and said the committee would be willing to provide unfiltered access as it gears up for hearings next month as well as a report expected in the fall.
“If they want to come in and say we want to look at something, that’s fine. But my understanding is they want to have access to our work product. And we told them no, we’re not giving that to anybody,” Thompson 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 development comes as committee members have become more vocal in their frustration over a lack of action from the Justice Department in targeting high-ranking Trump-era officials in their own investigation.
While the DOJ has brought charges against at least 800 people involved with the attack, it’s only recently brought them against leadership of the far-right Oath Keepers for seditious conspiracy, a weighty charge that can carry up to 20 years in prison.
The Jan. 6 committee, meanwhile, has spoken with high-ranking White House officials and others in the Trump administration in the course of conducting more than 1,000 interviews.
That includes former DOJ officials who were pressured by former President Trump to advance investigations into his baseless claims of election fraud, members of Trump’s own family and other aides who described efforts to coordinate with lawmakers and state officials in order to block certification of the election results.
DOJ did not respond to request for comment.
It’s unclear which of the committee’s witnesses might be of interest to federal prosecutors, and Thompson told reporters that the request came “with no names attached to it.”
Earlier this year, the Times reported that the department had expanded the scope of its criminal investigation to include those involved in organizing the rallies that directly preceded the attack on the Capitol, as well as the scheme to organize fake slates of electors who would have cast their “votes” for Trump in states that President Biden won.
The committee’s hesitance with DOJ comes amid its own discussion over whether it should seek to refer Trump and others for criminal charges when it issues its own final report in the fall.
At a hearing in March where it referred its third and fourth former Trump associates for criminal prosecution after refusing to comply with congressional subpoenas, many had harsh words for DOJ.
“Attorney General Garland, do your job so we can do ours,” Rep. Elaine Luria(D-Va.) said at the time, noting that DOJ has thus far only acted on one of the four referrals approved by the full House.
Harper Neidig contributed.