I can't remember it exactly now, but a few months ago I'd read about the United States House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack collecting some information or testimony that felt to me like the Department of Justice could not have collected without first having probable cause. I'm no legal expert, it just felt that way.

I was reminded of that today hearing committee member Mark Kinsinger answer a question towards the end of CNN's May 18, 2022 Kinzinger calls out GOP leaders for tolerating White replacement theory after about 05:16 (my transcription):

CNN: Let me ask you a little bit about the business of the January 6th Committee. We learned that the Justice Department has asked your committee for transcripts of some of the interviews that you have all done. How do you feel about that and will those be handed over?

Kinsinger: Well I think the Chairman recently addressed this and I'll defer specifically to his words, but I think they were along the lines of... "you know, look, we're not going to specifically turn it over to the Department of Justice, there's some issues there, but we're certainly going to find ways to make sure they know what is in the material, that they get the answers they need. I'm in line with cooperating with the DOJ one hundred percent. I'll just defer to the Chairman to figure out the technicalities.

I can imagine a scenario where information the DOJ could not have independently obtained could be still obtained either by voluntary transfer from the committee or in response to a DOJ subpoena, and wonder if this could be seen as a back-door and potentially illegal. So to understand these issues better I'd like to start by asking:

Question: Are there limits to what the January 6 House Select Committee can share w/ US Department of Justice due to the methods and ways in which it was collected?


1 Answer 1


Are there limits to what the January 6 House Select Committee can share w/ US Department of Justice due to the methods and ways in which it was collected?

Whatever the limits are, they are self-imposed.

Rules of the House of Representatives

Rule XI, Procedures of Committees and Unfinished Business

  1. Adoption of written rules

(k) Hearing procedures

(5) [Generally, covers closing the committee meeting (entering executive session) when] "the evidence or testimony at a hearing may tend to defame, degrade, or incriminate any person, ...".

(7) Evidence or testimony taken in executive session, and proceedings conducted in executive session, may be released or used in public sessions only when authorized by the committee, a majority being present.

Also Rule VIII, Response to Subpoenas,

  1. (b) Under no circumstances may minutes or transcripts of executive sessions, or evidence of witnesses in respect thereto, be disclosed or copied.

The House rules, above, give effect to 18 U.S. Code § 6002 by preventing disclosure of potentially self-incriminating testimony and evidence presented during a Congressional investigation. But note that 18 U.S. Code § 6002 is not a limitation on the House, its a limitation on the DOJ's use of testimony and evidence improperly released.

18 U.S. Code § 6002 - Immunity generally

Whenever a witness refuses, on the basis of his privilege against self-incrimination, to testify or provide other information in a proceeding before or ancillary to—


(3) either House of Congress, a joint committee of the two Houses, or a committee or a subcommittee of either House,

and the person presiding over the proceeding communicates to the witness an order issued under this title, the witness may not refuse to comply with the order on the basis of his privilege against self-incrimination; but no testimony or other information compelled under the order (or any information directly or indirectly derived from such testimony or other information) may be used against the witness in any criminal case, except a prosecution for perjury, giving a false statement, or otherwise failing to comply with the order.

  • 1
    Thanks for your answer! By the way I've rolled back your changes to the tagging of my question. I did not ask only about house-rules; there could very well be law-based limits and you shouldn't discourage other's from answering on that basis. "Whatever the limits are, they are self-imposed" only becomes true if the question is limited to house-rules, so the edit to my question could be seen as self-serving. Remember there are House Select committee subpoenas and DOJ subpoenas and they differ.
    – uhoh
    May 19, 2022 at 21:27
  • @uhoh - The question is phased in terms of what the House can do, thus [house-rules] is appropriate, After changing the tag, I search for a duplicate because I had answered a question referencing these rules before. Turns out it was not a potential dup target.
    – Rick Smith
    May 19, 2022 at 23:14
  • Just for example, I would say breaking the law would be a limit, no? I would see avoiding accusations of collusion with the DOJ as a limit, no? I disagree with the premise that house-rules are the only possible limits. One might track this down: "Well I think the Chairman recently addressed this and I'll defer specifically to his words..." perhaps there is some additional information there.
    – uhoh
    May 19, 2022 at 23:15
  • @uhoh - I don't understand what you are trying to get to from your examples. The rule is simple. Once the committee goes in closed session and the witness "Takes the Fifth", anything said or shown that "may tend to defame, degrade, or incriminate any person" remains in the committee. Should a witness commit perjury, some such information may be used to support the perjury charge.
    – Rick Smith
    May 20, 2022 at 0:16
  • It's because you keep reverting back to rules as if they are the only possible source of limits. Citing rules is certainly an answer but it's quite a limited answer if you will. Let's wait and see how other answers address this.
    – uhoh
    May 20, 2022 at 0:46

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