The House panel investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol turned down a Justice Department request for access to committee interviews — for now.
WASHINGTON — The House panel investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol is denying a Justice Department request for access to committee interviews, for now.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chairman of the committee, said Tuesday that the Justice Department had made the request as part of its ongoing criminal investigation into the attack. But he said it was “premature” for the committee to share its work at this time because the panel’s investigation is ongoing.
The Justice Department’s request comes as prosecutors have been issuing subpoenas and seeking interviews with people who had been involved in planning events leading up to the attack on Capitol Hill last year. The request to the House panel, which has conducted more than 1,000 interviews to date, exemplifies the breadth of the Justice’s investigation into one of the biggest attacks on democracy in US history.
The Justice Department and Attorney General Merrick Garland have faced mounting pressure to prosecute former President Donald Trump since the House committee on January 6 presented an argument over what its members believe could be. a viable criminal case against the former president.
The Justice investigation, the largest criminal investigation in US history, has largely focused on prosecuting those who stormed the Capitol, pushing and punching overwhelmed police officers until they were bloodied and bruised, in an attempt for stopping the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory. In the 16 months since the insurrection, more than 800 people have been arrested and around 280 of them have pleaded guilty to various federal charges.
Garland has given no public indication as to whether prosecutors might be considering a case against Trump. However, she promised to hold accountable “all perpetrators of January 6, at any level” and said that would include those who were “present on that day or who were criminally responsible for the attack on our democracy.”
Thompson said the panel had shared some information with federal, state and local agencies, but they could only review it at a specific location, a common government practice with sensitive documents known as camera review. It is unclear what specific interviews or documents the Justice Department had sought.
“They made a request and we told them that as a committee the product was ours and we would not give anyone access to the product of the work,” Thompson told reporters Tuesday.
“We can’t share the document with them,” Thompson said. “Big difference… we can’t give them unilateral access.”
The Senate intelligence committee rejected a similar request as part of its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.