The House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol has received a formal request from the Department of Justice to share copies of its interviews with witnesses, which the committee will do. “in a timely manner,” the president, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said Thursday.
“We can’t stop our work because someone writes us a letter,” Thompson said after the panel’s third hearing on the Capitol insurrection. “Now we will cooperate with them, but the committee has its own schedule.”
The Justice Department sent a letter to the committee on Wednesday urging the committee to provide copies of all of its witness interviews. The agency stressed that the depositions are crucial to its investigation into the January 6 violence.
“It is now apparent that the interviews conducted by the select committee are not only potentially relevant to our overall criminal investigation, but are likely relevant to specific prosecutions that have already commenced,” the letter states. “The select committee’s refusal to grant the Department access to these transcripts complicates the Department’s ability to investigate and prosecute those who engaged in criminal acts in connection with the January 6 attack on the Capitol.”
Thompson pointed out that the committee received the letter “just yesterday.”
“We are reviewing it. We will respond to them, but we are in the process of holding our hearings. We have a program to overcome. We need to know the facts and circumstances of January 6,” he said. “We are not going to stop what we are doing to share the information we have obtained so far with the Ministry of Justice. We have to do our job.
Thompson said the transcripts would not be submitted to the Justice Department by the end of the week.
“That doesn’t mean we’re not going to do business,” he said. “We interviewed over 1,000 witnesses. That means we should stop what we’re doing and then work with the Department of Justice. We will eventually cooperate with them. … We have many other things to do.
“No one wants to understand what happened better than our committee, and we will,” he said.