In what could be a major tell, U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chairman of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s politically motivated January 6 select committee, has reportedly refused a Justice Department request for interview transcripts compiled during the panel’s so-called investigation.
With U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., one of two Pelosi Republicans on the committee, tossing around remarks about there being enough evidence for a criminal referral for former President Donald Trump, logic may suggest that the panel would be eager to share evidence with a DOJ led by Attorney General Merrick Garland, who has proven to be a true and faithful servant to the anti-Trump cause.
NBC News reported that Thompson “indicated Tuesday that the panel wasn’t prepared to hand over the transcripts.”
“Justice Department officials heading up the criminal investigation into the attack on the U.S. Capitol have asked a House committee for transcripts of interviews conducted in its Jan. 6 investigation, another sign the Justice Department is widening its inquiry,” the network reported. “The chief of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Kenneth Polite, and the U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., Matthew Graves, sent a letter last month to the lead investigator for the House panel, former U.S. Attorney Timothy Heaphy, requesting interview transcripts.”
Thompson reportedly suggested DOJ officials could view specific documents in person, telling reporters the committee was willing to talk to the investigators but “can’t give them full access to our product.”
“That would be premature at this point, because we haven’t completed our work,” he said, according to NBC News.
Thompson on DOJ request: “It came with no names attached to it or anything. We’re still in the process of doing our work product. We cooperate all the time with agencies, people have come in and looked at information but we’ve not given access to the product.”
— Hugo Lowell (@hugolowell) May 17, 2022
Perhaps Democrats fear a leak that would rob them of the opportunity to release seemingly damaging information themselves in a more timely manner. The committee has been slow-walking the process, presumably looking to draw it out until closer to the midterm elections — Democrats are widely expected to experience a shellacking in November and they still see this as a winning issue, although polling suggests many Americans have moved on from a protest that got out of hand some 1 1/2 years ago.
U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who sits on the J6 committee, has taken issue with the Justice Department for not going after Trump harder — his obsession with taking down Trump remains strong since he led the first sham impeachment effort against the former president — and questioned their efforts anew on Tuesday.
“While the committee wants to make sure that we are supporting the work of the Department of Justice, we also have our own institutional equities that have to be weighed. And as the chairman pointed out, simply turning over files is not the way to weigh those equities. I think they’ll have to be weighed in a very specific case by case basis,” Schiff told NBC News.
“And I think the breadth of the department’s request does raise questions for me about why the department would rely on the work of Congress, why it has taken so long to get its own investigative efforts underway, beyond those that it has already undertaken,” he continued. “They have far greater resources than we do.”
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