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Jan. 6 committee begins cooperating with DOJ’s special counsel

In the spring, the Jan. 6 committee and the Justice Department were not cooperating. They're now on the same page, which is awful news for Team Trump.


The Justice Department and the Jan. 6 committee have not always been on the same page. Eight months ago, for example, before the House panel’s televised hearings began in earnest, the chief of the Justice Department’s criminal division and the U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., sent a letter to the lead investigator for the committee.

As regular readers might recall, the message was fairly straightforward: As far as the Justice Department is concerned, some of the interviews conducted by congressional investigators “may contain information relevant to a criminal investigation we are conducting.” They asked the committee to “provide to us transcripts of these interviews, and of any additional interviews you conduct in the future.”

The panel’s Democratic chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, did not jump at the chance to help. NBC News reported that the Mississippi congressman indicated that the committee wasn’t prepared to hand over the transcripts while members’ work was ongoing.

Thompson went on to tell reporters that the committee was willing to talk to Justice Department investigators, but at that point he and his colleagues weren’t prepared to “give them full access to our product.”

That, however, was in the spring. Eight months later, as the select committee’s work wraps up, it appears everyone is getting along much better now. Punchbowl News reported last night that congressional investigators have been “extensively cooperating with the Justice Department’s special counsel charged with overseeing investigations into former President Donald Trump.”

Jack Smith’s initial outreach to the committee was on Dec. 5, at which point the special counsel requested, well, everything. Unlike the responses from April and May, the bipartisan panel is now in a sharing mood.

Starting last week, the select committee began sending Smith’s team documents and transcripts. Much of the production from the Jan. 6 committee is in relation to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and John Eastman, the Trump lawyer at the center of the “fake elector” scheme. The select committee has also sent the Justice Department all of Meadows’ text messages and related evidence. In addition, the House panel shared transcripts of interviews with several witnesses related to the “fake elector” scheme and the efforts by Trump and his allies to pressure states to overturn their election results, specifically in Georgia.

According to the report, which has been independently verified by NBC News, there are still more documents in the committee’s possession that will also be shared with Smith and his team.

Just to state the obvious, none of this is good news for the former president. For Trump and his lawyers, the fact that there were competing investigations into alleged Jan. 6 wrongdoing, and neither team seemed interested in sharing with the other, provided some comfort.

That’s clearly over now. Criminal investigators don’t just have access to the evidence they’ve compiled, they can now supplement that evidence with the facts compiled by congressional investigators — who include some accomplished officials with plenty of prosecutorial experience.

It’s probably not a coincidence that the former president is starting to lash out at the special counsel by name: Trump has reason to be nervous about Smith’s probe.