Justice Department says January 6 committee interview transcripts ‘critical’ to criminal investigation

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WASHINGTON — Justice Department officials have renewed their request to the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol to turn over transcripts of witness testimony, saying the documents are “essential to his sprawling investigation.

“It is now apparent that the interviews conducted by the select committee are not only 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 essential that the select committee provide us with copies of the transcripts of all of its witness interviews.”

The letter was signed by Matthew Graves, U.S. Attorney for Washington, DC, Kenneth Polite, Assistant Attorney General for the DOJ’s Criminal Division, and Matthew Olsen, Assistant Attorney General for the Department’s National Security Division.

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

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

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

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

Its release came during 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 to quit. refuses to certify the results of the 2020 election. So far, the committee has interviewed more than 1,000 witnesses as part of its investigation.

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

Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., expressed reluctance to share 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. “It would be premature at this stage, because we haven’t finished our work.”

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

Daniel Barnes contributed.

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