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Intercept reporter: FBI's rapid collection of phone records after Capitol riot could 'end up hurting' case

Ken Klippenstein, an investigative reporter at The Intercept, said Thursday that the FBI’s rapid collection of cell phone data connected to people at the scene of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot could “end up hurting their case,” if courts find that the agency violated privacy norms or rules. 

In an interview on Hill.TV’s “Rising,” the journalist cited his recent reporting showing that in the days following the mob attack, the FBI in some cases used a “hybrid warrant,” or in others did not get any search warrant, for the collection of communications and other data, including data “dumps” from cell phone towers in the area. 

Klippenstein noted that some officials involved in the collection effort said that “everyone’s scared of being seen as soft on the rioters.” 

“This whole case is so politicized that no one is willing to come forward and say something that was expressed to me by countless FBI agents, which is you don’t make major decisions like this immediately in the wake of something when tensions are really high,” he explained. 

Instead, Klippenstein says investigators should “wait and try to go through the process and go about it in a careful fashion, because they’re going to have to end up presenting this stuff to a court.” 

“If they violated norms or rules… that’s going to end up hurting their case, so it’s not actually helping people who would want this to be prosecuted in an aggressive fashion,” the reporter said. 

Watch part of Klippenstein’s interview above.