Washington — The Justice Department has decided that former officials who worked in the Trump administration can testify before congressional committees probing theon the U.S. Capitol, a U.S. official confirmed to CBS News.
The department recently sent letters to Capitol Hill notifying lawmakers that the ex-officials had been given the green light to give testimony about the events surrounding the Capitol attack. The New York Times first reported the Justice Department's decision.
Several congressional panels, including the Senate and House Judiciary Committees, have mounted investigations into former President Donald Trump's efforts to reverse the outcome of the 2020 presidential election and the run-up to the January 6 riots at the Capitol, which left five people dead and more than .
Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, a Democrat who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the panel has been pushing the Justice Department to allow former officials to provide testimony on the events following the 2020 election "for months."
"Now that we have it, we'll proceed to interview relevant witnesses ASAP so we can get to the bottom of this plot to enlist DOJ in Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election," he tweeted.
The House Oversight Committee, led by Democrats, confirmed it also received letters from the Justice Department authorizing former Trump administration officials to answer questions from the panel as part of its review of Mr. Trump's conduct surrounding the 2020 election.
The committeelast month detailing the extent to which the former president pushed the Justice Department to challenge the results of the election after President Biden was declared the winner. The panel is seeking interviews with several former Trump administration officials, including former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and former acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, who received or exchanged emails about Mr. Trump's unfounded claims the election was rigged and his efforts to overturn the outcome of the election.
The decision by the Justice Department paves the way for the officials to answer questions about their experiences working for the Trump administration in the weeks after the November 3 election.
"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, and that DOJ has authorized key officials to provide 'unrestricted testimony' to the committee without asserting claims of privilege," Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney of New York, the committee's chairwoman, 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."