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Jan. 6 Panel Could Start Sharing Transcripts With Justice Dept. in July


WASHINGTON — The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack could start sharing some transcripts of witness interviews with federal prosecutors as early as next month as Justice Department officials ratchet up public pressure on the panel to show over the documents.

Negotiations between Justice Department officials and Timothy J. Heaphy, the lead investigator for the House panel and a former federal prosecutor, have intensified in recent days, because the two sides wrangle over the timing and content of the fabric to be turned over, in response to several people aware of the talks but not authorized to publicly discuss the matter.

Prosecutors have previously said that the committee planned to publicly release the documents requested in September.

“The select committee is engaged in a cooperative process to deal with the needs of the Department of Justice,” said a spokesman for the committee, Tim Mulvey. “We should not inclined to share the main points of that publicly. We imagine accountability is essential and won’t be an obstacle to the department’s prosecutions.”

Justice Department officials and top investigators, including Matthew M. Graves, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, are growing increasingly impatient to acquire the transcripts, which they see as a necessary source of data needed to guide their very own interviews with former President Donald J. Trump’s allies, in response to people aware of the negotiations.

The Justice Department sent the committee a two-page letter on Wednesday accusing the panel of hampering the federal criminal investigation into the attack by refusing to share interview transcripts with prosecutors.

Within the letter, department officials suggested that by withholding the transcripts, the committee was making it harder for prosecutors to gauge the credibility of witnesses who can have each spoken to the panel and secretly appeared before a grand jury.

“The select committee’s failure to grant the department access to those transcripts complicates the department’s ability to research and prosecute those that engaged in criminal conduct in relation to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol,” Justice Department officials wrote within the letter, which was made public in a court filing.

Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the committee, told reporters on Thursday that the House panel was in the midst of its work and wanted to finish more of its investigation before turning over voluminous evidence to the department.

“We should not going to stop what we’re doing to share the knowledge that we’ve gotten up to now with the Department of Justice,” he said. “We’ve to do our work.”

Mr. Thompson added that the committee would “cooperate with them, however the committee has its own timetable.” He has previously suggested that certain transcripts may very well be made available to the department upon request.

Democrats on the committee were stunned by the confrontational tone of the letter from the Justice Department and believed that the negotiations had been proceeding amicably after some initial public sniping, in response to an individual aware of the discussions.

Lawmakers on the committee and the staff members chargeable for conducting tons of of interviews have said that they’re currently consumed with the duty of constructing the clearest possible public case that Mr. Trump and his allies incited an riot — and plan to pivot to the department’s request as they start winding down their series of public hearings later this month.

Other, more substantive issues remain. Committee aides are still interviewing witnesses and hope the high-profile hearings will prompt more to come back forward, they usually are concerned that some people is likely to be reluctant to testify in the event that they know their statements shall be quickly shared with prosecutors.

And the logistical challenges are daunting: The committee has conducted greater than 1,000 interviews, tons of of which were transcribed, and accommodating the Justice Department’s request would require a diversion of labor on a staff that’s already exhausted and overstretched. Due to the quantity of interviews — which frequently number in the handfuls per week — it has at times taken the committee months to organize a witness’s transcript and invite his or her lawyer to review it in person.

Furthermore, some committee members have been frustrated by the Justice Department’s refusal, so far, to share information and interviews the committee has requested.

The letter on Wednesday got here about two months after department officials sent their first written request for transcripts. On April 20, Mr. Graves and Kenneth A. Polite Jr., the assistant attorney general for the criminal division, wrote to the panel and said that some transcripts “may contain information relevant to a criminal investigation we’re conducting.”

The letter didn’t specify the variety of transcripts the department was searching for or whether certain interviews were of particular interest. Its request was broad, asking that the panel “provide to us transcripts of those interviews, and of any additional interviews you conduct in the long run.”

The committee has no authority to bring criminal charges against anyone involved within the storming of the Capitol. Committee members have said that the Justice Department must do more to carry people accountable for his or her role within the attack.

The department’s sprawling investigation into the riot has up to now resulted within the arrests of greater than 840 people. The heads of two of the nation’s most outstanding far-right groups, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, have been charged with seditious conspiracy.

Prosecutors are also examining whether laws were broken within the weeks before the attack as Mr. Trump’s allies looked to far-fetched legal arguments and voter fraud conspiracy theories as they sought to maintain him in power. Prosecutors have subpoenaed information related to a few of the lawyers who worked on those efforts.

Alan Feuer contributed reporting.

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