The already expansive Justice Department probe into the Capitol riot and its causes is growing.
“A Justice Department team focusing on elements of the investigation beyond the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, has in recent weeks been given more personnel, office space and an expanded mandate” according to sources, per a new report in The Wall Street Journal. The Journal specifies added personnel are prosecutors — not, say, support staff. Other details that recently emerged indicate that Justice Department officials are preparing for a lengthy probe — and preparations for a long investigation suggest they’re gearing up for dealing with complex cases, although some such cases have already emerged. An array of people connected to the far-right groups known as the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys were, for instance, charged with seditious conspiracy in connection to the Capitol riot.
A job posting went up from the Justice Department earlier this year in pursuit of new Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSAs) to serve in the Capitol Siege Section of the Criminal Division at the U.S. Attorney’s office for Washington, D.C., and the positions that U.S. Attorney’s team was trying to fill were slated to continue for at least two years.
Meanwhile, in terms of people already on staff, cases connected to the riot involving “complex conspiracies and… sources of funding” were placed under the purview of Maryland prosecutor Thomas Windom. According to the Journal’s recap of revelations from sources, Windom “pushed to explore the activities of several members of Mr. Trump’s inner circle” — although the identities of those individuals were not included in the report. The Justice Department has recently publicly revealed it’s targeting Trump allies including his ex-attorney John Eastman and Jeffrey Clark, who worked in the Justice Department while Trump was in power. Clark supported Trump’s election-related conspiracies, and Trump temporarily considered making him acting Attorney General.
The report from the Journal indicates that officials at the Justice Department are paying attention to the House panel investigating the Capitol riot. It particularly cites the recent public testimony of former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, although the Journal only has somewhat vague revelations in that context, as could be expected with a closely guarded federal investigation: Hutchinson’s testimony “broadened some Justice Department officials’ view of the potential scope of the probe,” the Journal says, referencing the department’s January 6 investigation, although there weren’t any apparent formal strategy changes.
The House panel that’s examining the riot — to whom Hutchinson publicly testified — isn’t providing the Justice Department with everything it’s uncovered, positioning some of the revelations at public hearings to take prosecutors at least partly by surprise — and potentially spark further inquiries. Eventually, the riot panel is set to release all of its interview transcripts publicly — and it has hundreds of them — but that won’t be happening at this stage of the investigation. Meanwhile, Trump’s also facing personal vulnerability from a criminal investigation by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis into election meddling in which he engaged in Georgia. Among other questions, she’s examining whether to subpoena him.