Jan. 6 panel agrees to turn over 20 depositions to DOJ

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol expects to turn over 20 depositions to the Department of Justice as it accelerates its probe into the riot that day.

Lawmakers on the panel confirmed Friday that it would share the depositions shortly after coming to an agreement with the Justice Department following months of standoff between the two entities over sharing their work.

“I’m not certain who the 20 will be. But I would generally say that they’d probably be persons of interest, either they’re taking them to court or something like that,” Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) told reporters Friday.

The agreement to share some committee work follows news that the Justice Department brought two former aides to Vice President Mike Pence before a grand jury. They’ve also secured the cooperation of Kenneth Kulkowski, who worked alongside Jeffrey Clark, the assistant attorney general that former President Trump weighed installing as attorney general to forward investigations into purported voter fraud.

All can weigh in on a broader effort by the Trump campaign to focus on its fake elector scheme, using baseless claims of voter fraud as a justification for sending fake electoral certificates from key states President Biden had won.

Reporting from The New York Times earlier this month also indicates the Justice Department is beginning to more directly investigate Trump’s actions surrounding Jan. 6.

“Donald Trump was not an innocent bystander to these events, and he was at the center of a lot of the action. So I imagine if you’re the Department of Justice, and you’re investigating criminal offenses against the United States, his name would be coming up,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) told reporters Friday.

“We don’t know that there’s an investigation into him going on. But I do understand, at least from press reportage, that his name has come up in those grand jury investigations, and it seems to me implausible that it wouldn’t come up.”

The committee had previously said DOJ was too broad in its request for information from the panel, essentially asking them to turn over all depositions. Thompson relented on his earlier position that DOJ come in for an “in camera” review of documents, instead agreeing to turn over a smaller subset of depositions after DOJ narrowed their request.

“We’ve collected a lot of information, and I think a broad brush request would have interfered with the normal process of our work. We now have it cataloged to where it’s reasonable. Initially, we talked about an in camera review of material and we’ve since modified that to make information available upon request,” Thompson said.

“They won’t go beyond 20 at this point, and we think that’s reasonable. And after that, we’ll negotiate it. But everything we’ve done at some point will be made available to the public anyway, and if DOJ has an interest in particular individuals now, we will do that.”