At the same time, the House select committee is revealing new information in public hearings from its investigation into Trump’s “seven-part plan” to overturn the election that culminated in the US Capitol attack on January 6, 2021.
That plan, according to the committee, included the fake electors, a pressure campaign on then-Vice President Mike Pence to stop the counting of electoral votes, and the assembly of a violent mob that Trump directed to march to the Capitol — which is expected to be the subject of next Tuesday’s hearing.
The Justice Department has charged more than 800 people for their role in rioting at the Capitol on January 6. More than 300 have pleaded guilty. In recent months, the DOJ’s investigation has broadened beyond the rioters. It was first focused outside the Trump administration — on fake electors, organizers of the rally that preceded the attack, and on extremist groups. Now the department is moving closer to the political circles around Trump.
“We never know where it’s going to go,” said Philip Linder, a defense attorney for Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, who has been charged with seditious conspiracy. “There’s still stuff going. They’ve got to be looking at anything and everything they can do.”
In late June, the Justice Department issued several subpoenas to individuals involved in the fake electors plot, including GOP officials in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Two Republican state senators in Arizona also received subpoenas around the same time.
So far, no criminal charges have been filed in connection with efforts in political circles to try to overturn the election.
Impact of Hutchinson testimony
The DOJ investigation appears to lag in some ways behind the House committee’s work, and while the two probes have largely operated separate and apart from one another, they are starting to intersect — and not without tension. The DOJ has requested access to transcripts of witnesses who’ve spoken to the House and been unable to access them as readily as investigators wish. The House says they’ll eventually release all their materials.
Key players from the Trump administration who’ve sat for interviews with the House have not been contacted by the Justice Department, though their attorneys believe they could be in the future.
And while the House select committee readies for a hearing next Tuesday that promises to shed light on connections between Trump’s political world and extremist groups, the DOJ still hasn’t nailed down a major accusation made in court that was poised to link Trump’s inner circle with Rhodes, the Oath Keepers leader.
Wilson revealed he overheard the night-of-the-riot conversation when he pleaded guilty in federal court in May.
About three weeks ago, a DC US Attorney’s Office prosecutor told defense attorneys in the Oath Keepers case that investigators still hadn’t identified whom Rhodes called and were continuing to investigate, Rhodes’ attorney Linder told CNN. Rhodes’ defense team maintains there was no call like the one Wilson spoke about. The DOJ and a lawyer for Wilson haven’t responded to inquiries from CNN.
While the investigation plods along, the two most prominent January 6 criminal cases so far, accusing leaders of the Proud Boys and leaders of the Oath Keepers of seditious conspiracy, are headed to trial.
But the House committee’s approach has not made that lead-up easy. The House has not given the DOJ access to many of its transcripts of closed-door witness interviews–some of which could be relevant to the upcoming trials.
The trial for Proud Boys leaders recently was rescheduled amid concerns that information from the January 6 committee’s investigation into the Capitol riot could impact the case. Judge Timothy J. Kelly of the DC District Court said he “reluctantly” agreed to delay the trial — originally scheduled for early August — to December. Some of the defendants objected to the delay, while others wanted it.
Much of the concern from the Justice Department and several defense attorneys for the Proud Boys was that they still were awaiting the release of transcripts from the committee’s 1,000 witness interviews, which prosecutors said might be released in September.
Leaders of the Oath Keepers could also face a trial delay, depending on what information the committee reveals and when.
During a hearing in late June, federal Judge Amit Mehta told Oath Keepers’ defense teams and prosecutors they would need to wait and see what the committee does and that he likely didn’t have the power to compel Congress to turn over documents.
“There is only so much that can be controlled,” Mehta said. “If Congress doesn’t disclose the evidence — I’m not saying it’s not possible, but I’m not aware of any effort for a federal judge to get Congress to turn over records.”
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