Following the news that the House January 6th Committee is finally issuing subpoenas to Republican lawmakers who were involved in the Capitol investigation, a new report indicates that the Justice Department is also stepping up its own investigation.
Thus far, it has appeared that the House committee is doing all the work investigating the violent coup attempt that sought to overthrow our democracy and keep Donald Trump in power. In doing so, damning evidence has been revealed to the American public concerning the support and involvement of Republican lawmakers as well as Trump and his inner circle in the scheme.
But the Justice Department itself has seemed more interested in prosecuting the right-wing foot soldiers who stormed the Capitol instead of holding the ringleaders accountable. That may not be the case any longer.
The New York Times reports that the DOJ has requested transcripts from the committee that could very well help it build a criminal case.
The move, coming as Attorney General Merrick B. Garland appears to be ramping up the pace of his painstaking investigation into the Capitol riot, is the clearest sign yet of a wide-ranging inquiry at the Justice Department. The House committee has interviewed more than 1,000 people so far, and the transcripts could be used as evidence in potential criminal cases, to pursue new leads or as a baseline text for new interviews conducted by federal law enforcement officials.
The Justice Department’s investigation has been operating on a separate track from the committee’s work. Generally, investigators working on the two inquiries have not been sharing information, except for at times communicating to ensure that a witness is not scheduled to appear before different investigators at the same time, according to a person with knowledge of the inquiries.
Thus far, the Justice Department’s investigation has focused more on lower-level activists who stormed the Capitol than on the planners of the attack. But in recent weeks, Mr. Garland has bolstered the core team tasked with handling the most sensitive and politically combustible elements of the inquiry.
Is Garland and the DOJ finally taking aim at the ringleaders of the insurrection? If not, it most certainly should. The rule of law applies to them just as much as it does to those who stormed the building that day. Trump and other Republicans incited the violence. Some Republicans even aided them.
There will be another election this November. If Republicans gain control of Congress, they will kill the committee’s investigation and try to sabotage the DOJ probe in an effort to cover up their crimes. That cannot be allowed to happen. Anyone who organized, aided, or participated in the scheme to overthrow our democracy should face the most serious consequences, including the loss of their seat in Congress and prison time. Allowing this criminal conspiracy to go unpunished would set the stage for future coup attempts, possibly as early as 2024. It’s time for the DOJ to step on the gas.
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