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Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony prompted DoJ to focus on Trump in its Jan. 6 investigation: New York Times

The testimony of Jan. 6 witness Cassidy Hutchinson sparked a debate among senior Justice Department officials over Donald Trump’s potential criminal culpability in the Capitol riot, The New York Times reported.

Attorney General Merrick Garland and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco were present at some of the discussions, according to the report.

The DOJ has been criticized by Democrats for appearing to show little interest in Trump and his inner circle as he launches lawsuits based on the events of that day.

At a press conference in January, Garland defended the DOJ approach, saying she was working methodically to bring all those responsible to justice.

But the cases brought to court so far have involved the prosecution of individual rioters, primarily seeking convictions for acts of violence or crimes like trespassing, rather than seeking to establish broader culpability.

In his testimony, Hutchinson reported on Trump’s behavior on January 6 from a conversation with top Trump aides and his own observations.

According to the Times report, DOJ officials were surprised by this information.

Legal analysts said the testimony could help bolster charges of seditious conspiracy against the former president, or incitement.

Trump pushed back against Hutchinson’s claims, calling her a liar and a “social climber.” Critics of Trump and Hutchinson have not presented evidence that she said anything untrue.

The Jan. 6 committee could also take Trump to the Justice Department, which would not compel the DOJ to act, but would pressure it to open an investigation into the former president.

The DOJ’s Jan. 6 investigation is being conducted separately from that of the House Jan. 6 Committee.