How the January 6 Committee Investigation Maps onto DOJ’s Known Investigation

I’m going to attempt to do a live post mapping what we’re learning from the January 6 Committee investigation onto what we know about the multi-prong DOJ investigations. Before I do so, however, I want to point out several ways this matters, by showing how the multiple investigations intersect and how testimony to J6C may be useful for DOJ.

Ken Klukowski’s two interviews

I raised one example in this thread on Ken Klukowski, the lawyer who wrote the memo associated with John Eastman and Jeffrey Clark meant to justify a late-December DOJ intervention in Georgia. Klukowski is one of four people (and three lawyers) involved in a grand jury proceeding partially unsealed in December. By May 2022, DOJ had shown probable cause that one of his email accounts would include evidence of a crime, but DOJ also spent much of last summer working through the dicey privilege problems posed by an investigation involving a bunch of lawyers.

We now know the grand jury matters were unsealed after such time as DOJ first got some of the J6C transcripts, per this filing in the Proud Boys case, which shows DOJ passed on 16 Proud Boy transcripts before December 8.

Klukowski sat for two interviews with J6C — one on February 15, 2022, when he came off as a cooperative witness, and one on June 10, when the committee asked him about a bunch of documents involving John Eastman that Judge David Carter had released, some under a crime-fraud exception. At least during the interviews, Klukowski was represented by lawyers from Matt “Big Dick Toilet Salesman” Whitaker’s firm; see this exchange from Justin Caporale’s interview about how Matt Schlapp arranged for the defense of some Trump flunkies via the firm, and this reference to funding going to Schlapp from the J6C Report. In Klukowski’s second interview, the one discussing documents that had been liberated in part under a crime-fraud exception, one of Klukowski’s lawyers objected to the possibility that Klukowski might have to reassert privilege claims under oath. Whether these transcripts are part of why DOJ unsealed the grand jury materials or not, the two transcripts show how liberating the Eastman communications undercut much of what Klukowski had originally said about his involvement. And because he had already testified, this second interview provided useful backtracking on his earlier interview. The two transcripts may serve as useful tools in further breaching the privilege claims of these three lawyers, if not obtaining cooperation from one or several of them.

Alex Cannon’s two interviews

Alex Cannon is another example. Trump whisperers Josh Dawsey and Maggie Haberman have given him good press for his role in the stolen documents case. In February 2022, they tell us, Cannon refused to certify that Trump had turned over the the documents the President took from the White House.

Shortly after turning over 15 boxes of government material to the National Archives in January, former President Donald J. Trump directed a lawyer working for him to tell the archives that he had returned all the documents he had taken from the White House at the end of his presidency, according to two people familiar with the discussion.

The lawyer, Alex Cannon, had become a point of contact for officials with the National Archives, who had tried for months to get Mr. Trump to return presidential records that he failed to turn over upon leaving office. Mr. Cannon declined to convey Mr. Trump’s message to the archives because he was not sure if it was true, the people said.


The conversation between Mr. Trump and Mr. Cannon took place after officials at the archives began asking Mr. Cannon, following the return of the 15 boxes, whether additional classified material was at Mar-a-Lago. It was when Mr. Cannon raised this with Mr. Trump that Mr. Trump told him to tell the archives he had given everything back, the people familiar with the discussion said.

At the time, the various investigations related to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by Mr. Trump’s supporters were ramping up, with a number of requests for documents, the people familiar with the discussion said. Mr. Cannon told people that he was concerned that if Mr. Trump was found to be withholding material related to Jan. 6, he would be in a worse situation, according to people familiar with the discussions.

But Cannon’s two transcripts (April 13 and August 18, 2022) put that seeming scrupulousness in different light. Much of the first one establishes how, because of the jobs he was given as a campaign lawyer, he was in a position to understand that the claims made in fundraising emails sent after the election conflicted with the evidence showing no significant vote fraud. At the very end of that first interview, though, investigators asked Cannon why he was claiming privilege over discussions with Jared Kushner about forming a PAC when he was working with a campaign that should not legally coordinate with such a PAC (to say nothing of Cannon’s admitted inexperience on campaign finance law).

In that first interview, Cannon agreed that money raised after the election would have to be spent on recounts or debt retirement. His second interview (which took place ten days after the Mar-a-Lago search) focused more closely on how money raised in the guise of fighting vote fraud was actually spent. In it, Cannon bristled when investigators suggested campaign money could only be spent on debt retirement or recounts.

Then in Cassidy Hutchinson’s September interviews (September 14 and 15) — the two focused on attempts to obstruct her testimony — she described how Cannon first helped set her up with Trump lawyer Stephen Passantino, and then tried to get her several jobs. Hutchinson also described how Passantino claimed that Cannon (as well as Eric Herschmann, another person heroically portrayed in Maggie stories) was involved in the manipulation of stories with Maggie Haberman.

When J6C made its referrals, it made clear that DOJ was already aware of efforts to tamper with Hutchinson’s testimony. Hutchinson started cooperating with DOJ shortly after her solo J6C testimony, in July. So even before the raid on Mar-a-Lago, then, DOJ likely understood that Cannon’s role was more complex than you might understand from reading a Maggie Haberman story. Importantly, Cannon’s role in allegedly tampering with Hutchinson’s J6C testimony would span the time when (per Maggie’s reporting) he heroically refused to certify Trump’s February 2022 production and the time in May 2022 when Trump’s team tried to find ways to stave off further investigation. These strands overlap temporally.

That puts Cannon’s role as a witness in much different light, because it would give him different visibility — and criminal exposure — on several different things: Trump’s document theft, Trump’s lies about vote fraud, Trump’s efforts to tamper with witnesses, and Trump’s spending of money raised to combat vote fraud.

And that’s important background when you consider CNN’s reporting about the financial side of DOJ’s investigation, which described that “in recent months” an existing year-long investigation into the financing of the attack has shifted (like the J6C focus has) to how money raised purported in support of election integrity actually got spent.

Another top prosecutor, JP Cooney, the former head of public corruption in the DC US Attorney’s Office, is overseeing a significant financial probe that Smith will take on. The probe includes examining the possible misuse of political contributions, according to some of the sources. The DC US Attorney’s Office, before the special counsel’s arrival, had examined potential financial crimes related to the January 6 riot, including possible money laundering and the support of rioters’ hotel stays and bus trips to Washington ahead of January 6.

In recent months, however, the financial investigation has sought information about Trump’s post-election Save America PAC and other funding of people who assisted Trump, according to subpoenas viewed by CNN. The financial investigation picked up steam as DOJ investigators enlisted cooperators months after the 2021 riot, one of the sources said.

When Cannon refused to certify Trump’s production in February 2022, he had personal exposure in January 6. Refusing to certify documents because withholding some might amount to obstruction is far less heroic than the Trump whisperers have made out. But in ensuing months, as the complexity of Cannon’s role has become clear, it would provide DOJ many angles for DOJ to persuade Cannon to cooperate.

Other privilege claims

The grand jury release last month made me realize just how complex it is to investigate suspected crimes in which at least 12 lawyers were involved. But the transcripts should help DOJ pierce other privilege claims as well. For example, multiple witnesses were asked and mocked the idea that their own conversations with Jenna Ellis — who is a lawyer whose name was on many of the subpoenas DOJ has sent out but was often described as playing a spokesperson role — might be privileged. The same is true of lawyer Boris Epshteyn, described as playing a logistics, not legal role.

So in the same way that DOJ seemed to focus on emails involving Scott Perry with the Eastman, Jeffrey Clark, and Klukowski seizures, the J6C testimony will provide many more levers to use to chip away at attorney-client privilege claims (on top of what seems to be a slew of subpoenas that will partly serve the same purpose).

At some point in recent weeks, Jack Smith returned to the US to oversee the investigation he has been leading since November. The belated sharing of J6C transcripts will likely provide a big boost to that investigation.

47 replies
  1. Peterr says:

    From above, with emphasis added:

    Hutchinson also described how Passantino claimed that Cannon (as well as Eric Herschmann, another person heroically portrayed in Maggie stories) was involved in the manipulation of stories with Maggie Haberman.

    Is Maggie angling for another Pulitzer, this time for Fiction?

    • Tech Support says:

      Herschmann is an interesting figure. He got a lot of shine from that infamous video clip of his J6C testimony where he claimed to tell Eastman to get a lawyer. He appeared to force the Trump camp to make a privilege claim that he expected would fail. There’s a lot of opportunity for people to infer that he’s a “good guy” mixed in among the grifters and the irrational ideologues.

      I think what’s more correct is that he has no compunction about working for grifters and irrational ideologues when it advances his personal interests, but he’s a pragmatist who understands how the rules work and who isn’t going to endanger himself on behalf of somebody else’s agenda.

      • earthworm says:

        tech support:
        “I think what’s more correct is that he has no compunction about working for grifters and irrational ideologues when it advances his personal interests, but he’s a pragmatist who understands how the rules work and who isn’t going to endanger himself on behalf of somebody else’s agenda.”

        isn’t the above the conventional, streetwise view of lawyers and what they do?
        apologies to attorneys here at emptywheel — but flatlanders like me laugh heartily at the myriad lawyer jokes eternally going around, saying pretty much what you wrote.

      • Kevin says:

        I think Herschmann did a great job of selling himself as one of the few sane heads in the room, possibly more than Cipillone. Herschmann’s demand for declarations of executive privilege were similarly unique. But, if the transcripts with Hutchinson are to be believed, he’s just as slimy as the rest..

        [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please choose and use a unique username with a minimum of 8 letters. We are moving to a new minimum standard to support community security. We have several community members named “Kevin,” hence the need for differentiation. You’ve also commented 3 times here as “Kevin” and 1 time as “Kevin Collins.” Whatever unique 8-plus letter name you choose, please stick with it. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  2. rattlemullet says:

    The insurrection was televised live with the clear intent to prevent Biden from becoming president after he was elected. The extreme difficulty in prosecuting the insurrectionist lies in the fact that this insurrection done by lawyers and politician in full view with fraudulent court filings around the country constantly being given air time to espouse upon their lies to try and gain a modicum of legalese to justify their insurrection. The politician whom most feel they are above the law with “political free speech” working in concerted effort with the lawyers purporting the fraudulent justification being amplified by the media on a semi hourly basis. All looks perfectly legal, except the clear intent of all involved were trying to prevent to transition of the presidency to the duly elected winner. Openly performed seditious conspiracy. It has to be a DoJ nightmare with attorney client privilege, free speech rights, and the drumming chorus of the 5th compounded with I do not recall. Hopefully Jack Smith has the determination and drive to find a path with the required evidence to convict the leaders of the insurrection.

    • bmaz says:

      Fraudulent may be the wrong term, but frivolous certainly applies. If I were DOJ, I’d never charge seditious conspiracy.

      • Peterr says:

        From the post:

        Alex Cannon is another example. Trump whisperers Josh Dawsey and Maggie Haberman have given him good press for his role in the stolen documents case. In February 2022, they tell us, Cannon refused to certify that Trump had turned over the the documents the President took from the White House.

        Cannon wasn’t worried about frivolity. He was worried about fraudulent.

        And he worried with good reason, as the NYT demonstrated in June 2021:

        Rudolph W. Giuliani, a former top federal prosecutor, New York City mayor and lawyer to a president, had his law license suspended after a New York court ruled on Thursday that he made “demonstrably false and misleading statements” while fighting the results of the 2020 election on behalf of Donald J. Trump.

        Lawyers making “demonstrably false and misleading statements” to a court sounds pretty fraudulent to me.

        • bmaz says:

          Naw, the term is still frivolous. Did lawyers steal documents of others and falsely alter them? No? Then it is frivolous.

        • bmaz says:

          It is wrong either way. Calling it “fraud” strikes me as wrong. If that semantics is your hill, you are welcome to it.

        • BROUX says:

          Frivolous =
          not having any serious purpose or value
          of little weight or importance
          lacking in seriousness
          marked by unbecoming levity
          having no sound basis (as in fact or law)

          Only the last one seems to reflect what happened. Seems to me that the efforts of those lawyers was certainly for a serious purpose. Certainly, this was not humorous and done for fun or to display the absurdity of the “system” (like the trial of the Chicago 9 for example). Maybe, being “frivolous” in actions involving the justice system ought to be a serious (punishable?) transgression.

        • bmaz says:

          Yeah, it is, just not often enough. There still remains a difference between “fraud” and frivolous.

        • obsessed says:

          Interesting discussion. I found this (at

          A frivolous legal claim “lacks merit under existing law” and ”cannot be supported by a good faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law.” A fraudulent legal claim “is dishonest in fact” or “is made principally for a patently improper purpose, such as to harass the opposing party.”

          Trying to decide whether Rudy & Sidney’s suits made claims that are “dishonest in fact” or whether they danced around it. When called on it after the fact they said that no reasonable person would believe them. Eastman’s concession that his arguments would be struck down by 8 or 9 justices is pretty telling but Eastman’s arguments were never included in a lawsuit, right?

  3. Bay State Librul says:

    “The belated sharing of J6C transcripts will likely provide a big boost to that investigation.”
    I share Marcy’s booster shot.

    2022 was the year of weariness.
    We saw the crimes.
    We saw the liars.
    We saw the spinners.
    We saw the “5th Amendment takers”,
    We saw the “I can’t remember jokers,”
    We saw the witness intimidators and legal chutzpah coaches.
    Yet, accountability was merely blowin’ in the wind.
    Dylan wrote those lyrics in a dim cafe probably close to the Gas Light Cafe, deep in the heart of Greenwich Village. Little did we know then that gas lighting would become a word of the year
    “Yes, and how many times can a man turn his head and pretend he just doesn’t see.”
    Times have change and a hard rain is falling, Jack.
    How about naming March 2023 as National Indictment Month

    • bmaz says:

      Oh you do now, do you? So, you support the idiotic refusal to share with DOJ for actual, legal and criminal, accountability in favor of these showboating charlatans?

      And you think that is going to “boost” anything when they have been inhibiting it every inch of the way? Seriously? What kind of drugs are you on? Where are the other 800+ transcripts? Where is the actual documentary evidence? What have the the high holy J6 Committee been doing BSL? What a fucking joke.

    • emptywheel says:

      Nothing is changing except that people too lazy to do so before are seeing what DOJ has been doing and taking solace in it.

  4. Chetnolian says:

    Setting aside the semantics, I did not read anything heroic in Cannon’s reported refusal to certify. He refused because he thought he might too easily get caught out and for a lawyer the consequences would be serious, whatever excuse he gave. That cravenness seems all of a piece with the transcripts.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Agree. Cannon wasn’t honoring the truth or legal process. He was worried about losing his law license and staying out of prison. Nothing heroic there.

  5. rattlemullet says:

    Man, I have to say the words in law almost appear interchangeable. We are both speaking English just not the same language. Regardless any attorney who filed voter fraud lawsuit did so knowing it was false and wrong and did only with the intent defrauding the court and denying the legal results of the election. I also say they did it in coordination with all leaders of the insurrection.

    A frivolous claim, often called a bad faith claim, refers to a lawsuit, motion or appeal that is intended to harass, delay or embarrass the opposition.

    A claim is frivolous when the claim lacks any arguable basis either in law or in fact Neitze v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). That means, in a frivolous claim, either: “(1) “the ‘factual contentions are clearly baseless,’ such as when allegations are the product of delusion or fantasy;” or (2) “the claim is ‘based on an indisputably meritless legal theory.'” Livingston v. Adirondack Beverage Co., 141 F.3d 434, 437 (2d Cir. 1998).

    Fraud – The statute does not define the phrase “obtained by fraud.” Fraud is defined by nontechnical standards and is not to be restricted by any common-law definition of false pretenses. One court has observed, “[t]he law does not define fraud; it needs no definition; it is as old as falsehood and as versatile as human ingenuity.” Weiss v. United States, 122 F.2d 675, 681 (5th Cir. 1941), cert. denied, 314 U.S. 687 (1941). The Fourth Circuit, reviewing a conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 2314, also noted that “fraud is a broad term, which includes false representations, dishonesty and deceit.” See United States v. Grainger, 701 F.2d 308, 311 (4th Cir. 1983), cert. denied, 461 U.S. 947 (1983).

    • emptywheel says:

      In any case, Cannon’s exposure on fraud (or, more likely, that of those he was working for) would involve raising money promising it would be used in one way and yet spending it in another way. The same theory as used in the Build the Wall prosecution.

    • HorsewomaninPA says:

      I am not a lawyer, but is it possible that it is both frivilous and fraudulent? As in, fraudulently frivolous? Wasn’t there an overwhelming number of on-the-face “frivolous” lawsuits filed across the country in multiple states that brought forward no evidence? But, the fact that there were so many of them (filed by some of the same people) that it was at least a coordinated effort that time after time got shot down – that they continued it anyway – in pursuit of some ends where the true motive is being hidden (deceit).

  6. Attygmgm says:

    A fine example of why Dr. Wheeler’s (et al.) detailed postings, and the quality of the comments, are valuable resources.

  7. greenbird says:

    thank you, marcy, for not wearing out.
    i was just about to have a bigtime breakdown.
    so glad to begin reading this post: it means i ain’t ded yet !

    • bmaz says:

      Who gives a shit? The Bible is beyond irrelevant.

      By the way, please demonstrate how, when and where water was ever turned into wine. Can you do that?

      • Katherine Williams says:

        when and where water was ever turned into wine.

        Well, first you water a vineyard, you get that water into a grape. Then… something-something sun, fertilizer, Dionysian rituals maybe… then you pick the grapes and put ’em in a vat or barrel and let them ferment… ta-da!

  8. WilliamOckham says:

    Speaking of Trump’s post-election fundraising, the Save America PAC, and how that money was spent, I would like to point out that on 26 July 2021, Save America PAC donated one million large to the Conservative Policy Institute. CPI literally hosted some of the coup plotting. Not to mention the post-insurrection home for a whole assortment of Trump cronies. Just think of it as the coup plotters Mos Eisley Cantina (a wretched hive of scum and villainy), but without a cool live band.

  9. nedu says:

    > Klukowski sat for two interviews with J6C — one on February 15, 2022

    That should read December 15, 2021.

    Which perhaps may only really be worth mentioning because you’ve got the document name open-coded with a 211215_, similarly to the filename convention established in the J6C Dec 23, 2022 -2 release (J6C used 20211215_ in their filename).

    That transcript maps to GPO CTRL0000034612. And GPO has good metadata associated with that CTRL num, as they do with most of the 271 interviews/depos in their collection.

    However, when I last checked, GPO did have 6 transcripts labeled with dates that match neither the date inside the PDF, nor the date that was originally open-coded in the J6C filename.

    GPO also had 1 transcript completely mislabeled. If you’re looking for the April 12, 2022 Deposition of Vincent Haley, it’s CTRL0000062440 (GPO currently labels that one as “Sarah Miller” on a different date.)

    On the plus side, GPO has already fixed some of the metadata errors they had had yesterday. Maybe they’ll fix these errors before I figure out the best way to present this info?

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