June 28, 2022
Justice Department says Jan. 6 committee interview transcripts ‘critical’ to criminal investigation
WASHINGTON — Justice Department officials have renewed their request for the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol to turn over transcripts of witness depositions, saying that the documents are "critical" to its sprawling investigation.“It is now readily apparent that the interviews the Select Committee conducted are not just potentially…

WASHINGTON — Justice Department officials have renewed their request for the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol to turn over transcripts of witness depositions, saying that the documents are “critical” to its sprawling investigation.

“It is now readily apparent that the interviews the Select Committee conducted are not just potentially relevant to our overall criminal investigations, but are likely relevant to specific prosecutions that have already commenced,” read a letter sent to the committee on Wednesday.

“Given this overlap, it is critical that the Select Committee provide us with copies of the transcripts of all its witness interviews.”

The letter was signed by Matthew Graves, U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., Kenneth Polite, assistant attorney general of the DOJ’s Criminal Division, and Matthew Olsen, assistant attorney general for department’s National Security Division.

Grand jury investigations are not public, the officials wrote, which means the committee “does not and will not know the identity of all the witnesses who have information relevant to the Department’s ongoing criminal investigations.”

It is “critical that the Department be able to evaluate the credibility of witnesses who have provided statements to the multiple governmental entities in assessing the strength of any potential criminal prosecutions,” they wrote, adding that failure to grant the DOJ access to these transcripts would complicate its ability to investigate and prosecute rioters.

NBC News has reached out to the Jan. 6 committee for comment.

The letter was included in a Thursday filing by prosecutors consenting to a motion seeking to delay the trial of several Proud Boys defendants.

It’s release came amid the third public hearing held by the bipartisan committee, which focused on former President Donald Trump’s attempts to pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence into refusing to certify the 2020 election results. So far, the committee has interviewed more than 1,000 witnesses as part of their investigation.

Polite and Graves requested the witness transcripts in a letter sent in April to the lead investigator for the House panel, former U.S. Attorney Timothy Heaphy.

Committee Chair Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., has expressed reluctance in sharing the transcripts with the DOJ, suggesting that officials could still view specific documents in person. “We can’t give them full access to our product,” he said in May. “That would be premature at this point, because we haven’t completed our work.”

The FBI has arrested more than 825 people in connection with the Jan. 6 attack, and more than 310 have already pleaded guilty.

Ryan J. Reilly is a justice reporter for NBC News.

Daniel Barnes

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