DOJ Asks Jan. 6 Committee For Transcripts As It Seeks To Expand Probe

US Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks during a Medal of Valor ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on May 16, 2022. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

The Justice Department has reportedly requested interview transcripts from the Jan. 6 Select Committee, signaling a seeming expansion of its efforts to investigate the events surrounding the deadly Capitol insurrection last year, according to a Tuesday New York Times report.

The transcripts the DOJ has reportedly asked for include the committee’s interviews with figures within former President Trump’s inner circle. The panel has interviewed more than 1,000 people thus far, and the transcripts could serve as a tool for the DOJ as it collects evidence in existing criminal cases.

Importantly, the transcripts could also lead the DOJ to pursue new leads or help inform new interviews carried out by federal law enforcement officials.

Kenneth A. Polite Jr., the assistant attorney general for the criminal division, and Matthew M. Graves, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, reportedly wrote a letter to Timothy J. Heaphy, the committee’s lead investigator, on April 20, according to the Times. Polite and Graves told Heaphy that some of the panel’s interviews “may contain information relevant to a criminal investigation we are conducting.”

Polite and Graves’ letter broadly asked the committee to “provide to us transcripts of these interviews, and of any additional interviews you conduct in the future,” the Times reported.

Aides to Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), chair of the committee, told the Times that the panel has yet to reach a final agreement with the DOJ on whether any transcripts would be turned over.

Shortly after the Times’ report was published, Thompson confirmed many of the details to reporters, saying that the committee has not agreed to the DOJ’s request.

Asked whether the panel plans on turning transcripts over to the DOJ, Thompson suggested the committee would not share its records with the DOJ as it continues to work through its own Jan. 6 probe.

However, Thompson left the door open for the committee to share its records with the DOJ “once we finish our work.”

“We’re in the midst of our work. If they want to come and talk, just like we’ve had other agencies to come and talk, we’d be happy to talk to them, but we can’t give them access to our work product at this point,” Thompson said, later adding that such a move would be “premature.”

The DOJ has conducted its own investigation into Jan. 6 separately from the committee, with some members of the panel previously urging the DOJ to step up its investigation to look more closely at Trump’s Big Lie efforts. The Times noted that investigators of the two inquiries have not shared information, except to communicate schedules of witness appearances.

The DOJ has faced criticism for the seemingly narrow scope of its Jan. 6 investigation, which has appeared to focus primarily on the people who carried out the violence of the deadly Capitol insurrection. However, the DOJ began signaling its intent to broaden its probe into the attack in recent weeks, with requests for records about people involved with the planning of rallies that preceded the insurrection in addition to Republicans who attempted to act as fake electors for Trump after the 2020 election.

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