The chairman of the House Committee investigating the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot is stiff-arming a Justice Department request that the panel hand over transcripts from interviews it has conducted during the nearly year-long probe.
Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, Mississippi Democrat, confirmed reports that the Justice Department requested the committee hand over transcripts, but he said the panel would not do so until the committee’s work is complete.
“The reality is, we are conducting our own investigation,” Mr. Thompson told reporters Tuesday. “Obviously if they want to come and talk, they’re perfectly welcome to come and talk, and we have talked to them on other situations. But we can’t give them full access to our product. That would be premature at this point because we haven’t completed our work.”
The New York Times reported earlier Tuesday that the Justice Department has asked for the transcripts, citing people familiar with the situation and that Mr. Thompson had yet to reach a final agreement on the matter.
According to The Times report, Kenneth A. Polite Jr., assistant attorney general for the criminal division, and Matthew M. Graves, U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, told the committee’s lead investigator Timothy J. Heaphy last month that some of the committee’s interviews “may contain information relevant to a criminal investigation we are conducting.”
The two officials did not indicate how many transcripts they were requesting or what interviews were of interest.
A Justice spokesperson declined The New York Times’ request for comment.
Mr. Thompson confirmed the request later Tuesday.
He also confirmed that the committee cooperates “all the time with agencies,” but he said while outside agencies have “looked at the information,” the committee has “not given access” to its work products.
“If they say they want to come and look at something, we’d say come on. But we can’t share it,” he said. “You know, we can’t give ‘em, you know, unilateral access.”
The committee says it has interviewed more than 1,000 people since it began its investigation and is slated to begin holding a series of public hearings next month.