There’s now a clear path for officials from former President Donald Trump’s administration to testify before Congress about the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and the events that preceded it.
The Justice Department has notified former government officials that it has consulted with the White House counsel’s office and that it “would not be appropriate to assert executive privilege with respect to communications with former President Trump and his advisers and staff on matters related to the committee’s proposed interviews,” according to a person who has read the letter from department official Bradley Weinsheimer.
The decision could clear a path for former Justice Department officials to testify about an attempt to oust then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and replace him with someone sympathetic to the former president’s baseless arguments about election fraud in the days before the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
But the decision also could portend court challenges by Trump and others with whom he talked on Jan. 6, the person said.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, celebrated the decision.
“I am pleased that the Justice Department … has authorized key officials to provide ‘unrestricted testimony’ to the Committee without asserting claims of privilege,” she said in a statement. “I expect prompt cooperation from these witnesses, and I am committed to getting to the bottom of the previous Administration’s attempts to subvert the Justice Department and reverse a free and fair election.”
The House select committee investigating the deadly attack on the Capitol held its first hearing Tuesday. Other congressional panels have their own investigations underway.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chairman of the select committee, told reporters the panel will reconvene for another hearing in August.
Asked whether subpoenas would be issued for the former president or others who served at the White House on Jan. 6, Thompson said only: “We will follow the facts.”
NPR’s Barbara Sprunt contributed to this report.