The Lawfare Podcast: How to Evaluate Progress in the Justice Department's Jan. 6 Investigation

By Jen Patja Howell
Monday, August 1, 2022, 5:01 AM

There’s been a great deal of debate recently about how to understand the apparently slow pace of the Justice Department’s investigation into Jan. 6, particularly into Donald Trump’s personal role in the insurrection. On Lawfare, editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes made the case that everyone should just chill out and let the department do its work, while executive editor Natalie Orpett and senior editor Quinta Jurecic argued that it’s reasonable to push harder for the department to understand its particular responsibilities in upholding the rule of law in this unique political moment.

After that debate, Ben, Natalie, and Quinta put their heads together with former FBI official Pete Strzok—who’s expressed his own skepticism about whether the Justice Department is investigating aggressively enough—to map out some benchmarks for what to look for in the Jan. 6 investigation going forward. They wrote that up as a Lawfare piece—and then they sat down to talk about it on the podcast.

How will we know if the Justice Department investigation is proceeding aggressively? What signs should worry people hoping for legal accountability for the insurrection? Natalie, Pete, Ben, and Quinta discussed.

Note: This podcast was recorded before the New York Times published some new reporting on July 28 about the role of lead prosecutor Thomas Windom. Throughout the show, you’ll hear reference to a major report by the Washington Post published on July 26 stating that prosecutors have asked witnesses testifying before the grand jury about Trump’s individual actions before and on Jan. 6.