The U.S. Department of Justice must investigate reports that members of Congress and their staffers had extensive contacts with two organizers of the "Stop the Steal" rallies that preceded the Jan. 6 insurrection.
The organizers claim they met directly with Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and staffers for Reps. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Mo Brooks (R-AL), Madison Cawthorne (R-NC) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX), and justice correspondent Elie Mystal wrote in The Nation that the Justice Department must determine what role any of them might have played in coordinating the deadly riot.
"The Department of Justice should be leading the criminal investigation into the attack on the Capitol," Mystal wrote. "That is the entity that can not merely catalog but actually punish the insurrectionists."
Congress has a constitutional duty to subpoena documents and testimony about the riots to help pass new laws to ensure another attack cannot happen, but only the Justice Department can hold the conspirators accountable -- and so far, Mystal argued, they have not.
"We know the Justice Department is shirking its responsibilities and leaving Congress to do all the heavy lifting, because we have a good idea of whom its investigators haven't interviewed," he wrote. "There is no credible way to investigate the events of January 6 unless investigators talk to key players like Steve Bannon, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, and others in the Trump orbit (like Don Jr.) who may have played a role in planning the event. Any investigation that was seriously committed to getting to the truth would have already interviewed Mike Pence, key congresspeople's staffs, and the congresspeople who had telephone conversations with Trump on the day of the coup attempt."
It's clear the department hasn't gone after those individuals because they haven't gone on Fox News to complain, and Mystal said investigators must learn who helped plot the insurrection because it's obvious that someone in the know gave that assistance.
"The failure of the DOJ to investigate the planning of the putsch is all the more shameful given the publicly available evidence that the insurrectionists may have had help on the inside," Mystal wrote.
Some of the rioters went straight to the Senate parliamentarian's office, which is difficult to find without directions, and ransacked the place with a specific goal in mind.
"The insurrectionists somehow got there and began looking for the hard copies of the electoral votes that Congress was meant to certify that day," Mystal wrote. "Had they gotten their hands on those votes, even for a moment, they would have broken the chain of custody of the Electoral College count and at least delayed the certification of the election, as was their goal."