Jan. 6 panel seeks records of those involved in ‘Stop the Steal’ rally
The House committee investigating Jan. 6 sent letters to 35 different telecommunications and social media companies Monday, asking them to retain records of those who may have been involved in the attack on the Capitol — a group that likely includes lawmakers.
The requests seek email and phone records as well as communications and other data within different social media networks. The letters do not reveal whose information is being sought but follows a nod from Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) that the committee would seek the records of members of Congress.
Even without naming names, the letters released by the committee show a focus on both those already being investigated by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and those who were involved in planning former President Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally.
In addition to those already targeted by the DOJ, the letter asks for records of “individuals who were listed on permit applications or were otherwise involved in organizing, funding, or speaking at the January 5, 2021, or January 6, 2021, rallies in the District of Columbia relating to objecting to the certification of the electoral college votes.”
“As Chairman Thompson previewed last week, the Select Committee today sent letters to 35 private-sector entities, including telecommunications, email, and social media companies, instructing them to preserve records which may be relevant to the Select Committee’s investigation. The Select Committee is at this point gathering facts, not alleging wrongdoing by any individual,” the committee said in a statement.
“The document identifies individuals who may have relevant information to aid the fact-finding of the Select Committee,” the committee added in various letters to the 35 companies.
CNN reported Monday that the committee is planning to seek the phone records of a number of Republican lawmakers, a group reportedly includes Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Paul Gosar (Ariz.), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Lauren Boebert (Colo.), Mo Brooks (Ala.), Madison Cawthorn (N.C.), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Jody Hice (Ga.), Scott Perry (Pa.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) and Jim Jordan (Ohio), whom Republicans once tapped to serve on the committee.
Monday’s letters were sent to a wide variety of companies, including communications giants such as Google and Microsoft and all major cellphone carriers. They also include requests to encrypted messaging app Signal, right-leaning social media networks such as Parler, and more fringe websites such as 4chan and Gab.
While another request sent to many of the same companies last week asked for troves of data about disinformation surrounding the election as well as their internal reviews of different extremist groups, Monday’s letters ask the companies to retain records related more specifically to the unnamed individuals.
The letter to Google asks for all email messages, Google Drive files, and location history and deletion records. The request to Facebook and Twitter likewise asks for all communications. The phone companies included in the request have been asked to retain all text messages, cell site location data and call data, which would show who called whom and detail how long they spoke. Letters to the other websites ask more broadly for user data.
“We have quite an exhaustive list of people. I won’t tell you who they are, but it’s several hundred people that make up the list of people we are planning to contact,” Thompson told reporters last week.
The committee last week requested that several government agencies turn over documents from a number of people, including an exhaustive list of Trump associates such as family members, close aides and lawmakers.
Rep. Jim Banks (Ind.), another Republican once slated to serve on the Jan. 6 committee before his selection was refused by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), has indicated that GOP lawmakers would fight any seizure of their records.
“Rifling through the call logs of your colleagues would depart from more than 230 years of Congressional oversight. This type of authoritarian undertaking has no place in the House of Representatives and the information you seek has no conceivable legislative purpose,” Banks wrote in a letter to Thompson on Friday that was also sent to the general counsels of AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon.
Updated at 6:48 p.m.