WASHINGTON – The Justice Department will allow former Trump administration officials to testify before congressional committees investigating whether President Donald Trump tried to use the agency to subvert the result of the 2020 presidential election in the weeks leading up to the attack Jan. 6 on the Capitol.
The Justice Department said it will not assert executive privilege for former officials who may be called to testify before lawmakers, saying the issues under investigation are "exceptional circumstances warranting an accommodation to Congress," according to a letter from Associate Deputy Attorney General Bradley Weinsheimer.
The decision, which would allow former officials to provide "unrestricted testimony" to two congressional committees, could provide insight into Trump's actions and conversations leading up to Jan. 6, when a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol to try to stop Congress from confirming state-certified Electoral College results.
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The decision could, again, test the boundaries between executive power and congressional oversight. As president, Trump and his White House repeatedly argued that his deliberations and communications could not be disclosed to Congress.
Among the potential witnesses are former acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen and other high-ranking former Justice Department officials who may be called to testify about their conversations with Trump and White House officials in the final weeks of Trump's presidency.
"Congress has articulated compelling legislative interests in the matters being investigated, and the information the Committees have requested from you bears directly on Congress's interest in understanding these extraordinary events: namely, the question whether President Trump sought to cause the Department to use its law enforcement and litigation authorities to advance his personal interests with respect to the results of the 2020 presidential election," according to Weinsheimer's letter Monday notifying former officials they've been cleared to testify.
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The House Oversight and Reform and Senate Judiciary committees are investigating efforts by Trump and other Justice Department officials to advance unsubstantiated voter fraud allegations and overturn President Joe Biden's victory.
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In a tweet Tuesday, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said lawmakers will "proceed to interview relevant witnesses ASAP."
"I am pleased that the Justice Department has recognized that the committee has ‘compelling legislative interests’ in understanding the ‘extraordinary events’ surrounding President Trump’s conduct," said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, who expects "prompt cooperation" from witnesses.
A spokeswoman for Trump did not respond to a request for comment.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump officials can testify in Jan. 6 Capitol riot investigations