WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has asked the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack for transcripts of interviews it’s conducting, which have included discussions with associates of former President Donald J. Trump, in keeping with individuals with knowledge of the situation.
The move, coming as Attorney General Merrick B. Garland appears to be ramping up the pace of his painstaking investigation into the Capitol riot, is the clearest sign yet of a wide-ranging inquiry on the Justice Department.
The House committee has interviewed greater than 1,000 people thus far, and the transcripts may very well be used as evidence in potential criminal cases, to pursue latest leads or as a baseline text for brand new interviews conducted by federal law enforcement officials.
Aides to Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the committee, have yet to succeed in a final agreement with the Justice Department on what will probably be turned over, in keeping with an individual with knowledge of the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the confidential nature of the investigations.
On April 20, 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, wrote to Timothy J. Heaphy, the lead investigator for the House panel, advising him that some committee interviews “may contain information relevant to a criminal investigation we’re conducting.”
Mr. Polite and Mr. Graves didn’t indicate the variety of transcripts they were requesting or whether any interviews were of particular interest. Of their letter, they made a broad request, asking that the panel “provide to us transcripts of those interviews, and of any additional interviews you conduct in the long run.”
Spokesmen for the Justice Department and the House committee declined to comment.
The Justice Department’s investigation has been operating on a separate track from the committee’s work. Generally, investigators working on the 2 inquiries haven’t been sharing information, apart from at times communicating to be certain that a witness just isn’t scheduled to look before different investigators at the identical time, in keeping with an individual with knowledge of the inquiries.
So far, the Justice Department’s investigation has focused more on lower-level activists who stormed the Capitol than on the planners of the attack. But in recent weeks, Mr. Garland has bolstered the core team tasked with handling probably the most sensitive and politically flamable elements of the inquiry.
Several months ago, the department quietly detailed a veteran federal prosecutor from Maryland, Thomas Windom, to the department’s headquarters. He’s overseeing the politically fraught query of whether a case will be made related to other efforts to overturn the election, except for the storming of the Capitol. That task could move the investigation closer to Mr. Trump and his inner circle.
A subpoena reviewed by The Latest York Times indicates that the Justice Department is exploring the actions taken by rally planners.
Prosecutors have begun asking for records about individuals who organized or spoke at several pro-Trump rallies after the 2020 election in addition to anyone who provided security at those events, and about those that were deemed to be “V.I.P. attendees.”
Also they are in search of details about any members of the chief and legislative branches who can have taken part in planning or executing the rallies, or tried to “obstruct, influence, impede or delay” the certification of the election, because the subpoena put it.
The Justice Department’s request for transcripts underscores how much ground the House committee has covered, and the bizarre nature of a situation where a well-staffed congressional investigation has obtained testimony from key witnesses before a grand jury investigation.
The House committee, made up of seven Democrats and two Republicans, is led by Mr. Thompson and Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, certainly one of only two House Republicans to embrace an inquiry scrutinizing the actions of their very own party. The panel has about 45 employees, including greater than a dozen former federal prosecutors and two former U.S. attorneys, and is spending greater than $1.6 million per quarter on its work.
The committee has obtained documents and testimony from a wide selection of witnesses, including greater than a dozen Trump White House officials, rally planners and a number of the rioters themselves. Those witnesses have included White House lawyers; Justice Department officials; security officers; members of the National Guard; staff members near Vice President Mike Pence; members of Mr. Trump’s personal legal team; Republicans who participated in a scheme to recommend pro-Trump electors from states won by Joseph R. Biden Jr.; Mr. Trump’s own relations; and the leaders of right-wing militia groups.
At the very least 16 Trump allies have signaled they’ll not fully cooperate with the committee. Faced with such resistance, investigators on the panel have taken a page out of organized crime prosecutions and have quietly turned no less than six lower-level Trump administration staff members into witnesses who’ve provided details about their bosses’ activities.
A few of those witnesses — including an aide to Mark Meadows, the previous White House chief of staff — have provided critical information.
The committee also has tried to acquire testimony from Republican members of Congress, and it issued subpoenas to 5 lawmakers last week. Those members have denigrated the panel’s work but have declined to say whether or not they would take part in the interviews, that are scheduled for the top of May. Certainly one of the lawmakers, Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, said he received his subpoena on Monday and was reviewing it.
Mr. Garland and his top aides have been careful about not disclosing their investigative methods, and so they have sought to emphasise their impartiality in limited public comments in regards to the investigation.
“We investigate conduct and crimes, not people or viewpoints,” the deputy attorney general, Lisa O. Monaco, said last week during an interview on the University of Chicago.
“We follow the evidence,” she added. “It is rather vital to try this methodically.”