Merrick Garland Calls Jan. 6 Probe 'Most Urgent' in History as RNC Sues Committee

Attorney General Merrick Garland has called the criminal probe into the Capitol attack the "most urgent" in the Department of Justice's (DoJ) history as the Republican National Committee moved to sue the congressional panel investigating the January 6 riot.

Speaking to NPR to mark his first year as attorney general, Garland described the scope of the criminal inquiry into the Capitol breach and the work that is being carried out to prosecute those responsible for the insurrection.

The comments arrived after a number of high profile figures, such as Proud Boy Leader Enrique Tarrio and Oath Keeper founder Stewart Rhodes, have been charged in connection to conspiring to violently stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election.

"This is the most urgent investigation in the history of the Justice Department," Garland said. "It's the most resource intensive.

"We've thrown 70 prosecutors from the District of Columbia and another 70 from around the country. Every FBI office, almost every U.S. Attorney's Office in the country is working on this matter."

However, Garland refused to get fully drawn into how far the criminal investigation will go amid suggestions that the DoJ may soon charge former President Donald Trump over allegations he and his lawyer John Eastman engaged in a "criminal conspiracy" to overturn the 2020 election results.

Garland told NPR that the department would certainly not avoid charging people in order to avoid a massive political fallout.

"We are not avoiding cases that are political or cases that are controversial or sensitive," he said. "What we are avoiding is making decisions on a political basis, on a partisan basis."

The NPR interview was broadcast as the Republican National Committee (RNC) engaged in its most significant step so far to try and hamper the House Select Committee investigating the events leading up to the January 6 attack.

The RNC is suing the panel as part of attempts to block a subpoena issued to software company and major Republican vendor Salesforce.

As first reported by Axios, the lawsuit aims to block the panel's subpoena seeking documents from the RNC's fundraising platform vendor, which is owned by Salesforce.

The House Select Committee said it issued the subpoena in February because it wanted to look into whether Trump and his team used a Salesforce email software tool to repeatedly "disseminate false statements about the 2020 election" in the weeks leading up to January 6 and therefore helped incite the attack.

In a statement, the RNC said it filed the lawsuit in order to stop the House Committee from "unlawfully seizing confidential information" of the GOP and its supporters.

"Nancy Pelosi and the Committee have weaponized Congress' investigatory powers by issuing this staggeringly broad subpoena which tramples on core First Amendment rights of the RNC and millions of Americans," said RNC Chief Counsel Justin Riemer.

"The RNC is challenging this unconstitutional overreach so that one of America's two major political parties may not use the force of government to unlawfully seize the private and sensitive information of the other."

In response, Select Committee spokesperson Tim Mulvey said the subpoena was issued against Salesforce so investigators could understand the impact of "false, inflammatory messages" in the run up to January 6 and whether Trump was attempting to raise money on the back of false election fraud claims.

"This action has absolutely nothing to do with getting the private information of voters or donors," Mulvey said.

Salesforce has been contacted for comment.

Merrick Garland jan 6
Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks to the press following the conviction on federal hate crime charges of the three killers of Ahmaud Arbery on February 22, 2022 at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. Garland has called the criminal probe into the Capitol attack the "most urgent" in the Department of Justice's history. Nicholas Kamm-Pool/Getty Images