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January 6 Committee And Justice Department Tangle Over Evidence. Don't Let Them Fight!
Work that shit out, fellas, we got a country to save.
Is there a kerfuffle afoot between the January 6 Select Committee and the Justice Department? Will Liz Cheney and Merrick Garland settle the matter in a televised cage match available exclusively on C-SPAN After Dark? And will that be what finally causes Americans to give a shit about the fact that the GOP tried to overturn a free and fair election and are planning to do it again in 2024?
Yes, no, and we fucking wish.
Yesterday the New York Times was first to report that the Justice Department has asked the Committee for transcripts of witness interviews that “may contain information relevant to a criminal investigation we are conducting.”
But according to Politico, Committee Chair Bennie Thompson says NFW: “My understanding is they want to have access to our work product. And we told them, no, we’re not giving that to anybody."
It's a little bit difficult to understand what's going on here, and you kind of have to read all the coverage and try to squint your way to a reasonable guess.
The Times says prosecutors sent a letter requesting that the Committee “provide to us transcripts of these interviews, and of any additional interviews you conduct in the future." It cites a source who claims this is part of ongoing negotiations whereby the DOJ could get witness transcripts to bolster its hundreds of ongoing prosecutions of January 6 defendants, and the Committee could get its hands on whatever evidence the DOJ has from witnesses willing to blow off Congress but not Johnny Law.
The paper also notes that the Justice Department and the Committee appear to be treading the same ground, investigating whether the plot to swear in fake Trump electors and get them substituted for the Biden electors chosen by the voters amounts to a crime.
Politico says, "The department has been expanding its investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection and homing in on figures in former President Donald Trump’s orbit, particularly those associated with organizing 'Stop the Steal' events that preceded the attack on the Capitol."
And CNN reports that Thompson isn't foreclosing the possibility of sharing the transcripts, excerpts of which the Committee itself has published in various legal filings and subpoena letters.
Here's that Thompson quote again: "If they want to come in and say, 'we want to look at something,' that's fine. But my understanding is they want to have access to our work product. And we told them no, we're not giving that to anybody," he said.
"They wanted access to depositions," he added later. "But my understanding is they didn't tell us specifically what transcripts or anything like that."
If we had to make a guess as to what's going on here, the Justice Department is trying to play it close to the vest, asking for the broadest possible category of documents to avoid tipping off the Committee as to its current lines of inquiry. And considering that the Committee routinely engages in some, um, strategic leaking , that seems like a pretty smart plan.
On the other side, the Committee is about to start holding public hearings, and it doesn't want DOJ to come in and say, "actually, we'd like you not to use this because it might interfere with an ongoing investigation or prosecution."
Or maybe it's a cage match refereed by Chief Justice John Roberts. It's 2022, so any crazy thing is possible.
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