The Department of Justice (DOJ) has reportedly approached the House Select Committee to Investigate January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, asking for transcripts of interviews that it can use in prosecutions, the New York Times reported Tuesday.
The committee is barred by the Constitution’s separation of powers from exercising law enforcement powers. Congress can convene investigative committees, but they must have some relation to a legislative purpose, or to an impeachment purpose.
The Times reported:
The Justice Department has asked the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack for transcripts of interviews it is conducting behind closed doors, including some with associates of former President Donald J. Trump, according to people with knowledge of the situation.
The move is further evidence of the wide-ranging nature of the department’s criminal inquiry into the events leading up to the assault on the Capitol and the role played by Mr. Trump and his allies as they sought to keep him in office after his defeat in the 2020 election.
The House committee, which has no power to pursue criminal charges, has interviewed more than 1,000 people so far, and the transcripts could be used by the Justice Department as evidence in potential criminal cases, to pursue new leads or as a baseline for new interviews conducted by federal law enforcement officials.
The January 6 Committee, as it is known, offers none of the protections offered to ordinary criminal defendants. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) took the extraordinary step of rejecting some of the members recommended by the House Minority Leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and handpicked her own two anti-Trump Republicans. Effectively, that means witnesses are not questioned by opposing sides, but by committee counsel who are all working for the same side.
Witnesses who have refused to cooperate with what amounts to a partisan inquisition lacking basic due process protections have been held in contempt and referred for criminal prosecution. Some potential witnesses have challenged the committee, arguing that it is violating the Constitution’s separation of powers and their civil liberties. Many have also alleged in legal filings that the committee is violating the terms of its own enabling resolution, because it has the wrong number of members and no official ranking member with the authority to speak for the congressional majority in reviewing subpoena requests.
President Joe Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland both promised to run a DOJ that was free of partisan politics.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.