Schiff Explains Garland's 'Key Distinction' Amid Report of Trump DOJ Probe

Donald Trump January 6
Representative Adam Schiff said that he hoped the Department of Justice would realize that its investigation into the January 6 attack "has been leading to Donald J. Trump.". In this combination image, Schiff (Left inset) is pictured during a hearing of the House January 6 Committee in Washington, D.C. on June 13, 2022, US Attorney General Merrick Garland (Right inset) speaks at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC, on July 20, 2022 and Former US President Donald Trump arrives to speak at the America First Policy Institute Agenda Summit in Washington, DC, on July 26, 2022. Getty

Representative Adam Schiff said that Attorney General Merrick Garland had made a "key distinction" about the January 6 Capitol attack following a report that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is investigating former President Donald Trump.

The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that the DOJ had launched a criminal probe into Trump's ill-fated attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss to President Joe Biden, citing four anonymous sources said to be familiar with the situation. The report came less than a week after the final summer hearing of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol.

Reuters and several other outlets later repeated the accounts from The Washington Post. Newsweek has not independently verified the veracity of the report.

During an interview that partially aired Tuesday on MSNBC, Garland declined to say whether the DOJ had plans to charge Trump before telling NBC News anchor Lester Holt that he was committed to pursuing "justice without fear or favor."

Schiff, a California Democrat who served as a lead impeachment manager during Trump's first impeachment, discussed Garland's remarks during an interview with MSNBC host Chris Hayes. He downplayed the importance of The Washington Post report before suggesting that Garland appeared to have turned his attention toward Trump.

"It's hard to read too much into what The Washington Post disclosed," said Schiff. "It said that witnesses are being asked questions about the president's role. That doesn't necessarily mean that the president is under investigation. You would expect that witnesses would be asked about their interactions with anyone involved in the plot to overturn the election."

In a portion of the interview that Schiff later shared to Twitter alongside the comment "AG Garland made a key distinction tonight," Schiff said Garland was "saying all the right things" for the DOJ to eventually file criminal charges against Trump.

"Look, I think the attorney general today was saying all the right things," Schiff said. "I perceived a difference between what he'd been saying earlier about focusing on all those involved in the attack on January 6, and now talking more broadly about the overall plot to overturn the election."

"So, I would hope that if the department is truly following evidence where it truly leads, it will realize it has been leading to Donald J. Trump," he added.

Although the January 6 committee has been investigating Trump's role in the Capitol attack and his related attempts to overturn the election for more than a year, it does not have the power to file criminal charges against the ex-president, unlike the DOJ.

Trump has continued to falsely claim that the 2020 election was "stolen" from him, while accusing Democrats of pursuing an unfair "witch hunt" against him regarding his role in the January 6 attack and attempts to reverse the election outcome.

Newsweek has reached out to Trump's office and the DOJ for comment.