WASHINGTON – Representative Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader in the House, threatened retaliation against any company that complied with the congressional committee investigating the January 6 riots, after a panel ordered Dozens of companies have preserved the phone and social media records of 11 people to date—the right members of Congress who pushed to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
McCarthy’s warning is an escalation of his efforts to prevent a full accounting of the deadly attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, and his latest attempt to quarantine. former presidents and Republican lawmakers from scrutiny for any connection to the violence. It comes after he led the GOP opposition to form an independent bipartisan committee to investigate the riots, and then withdrew five Republican senators from the chosen committee that the Democrats formed on their own. establish and boycott the proceedings.
In the conservatorship that the special committee sent to 35 tech companies this week, panel members include the names of hundreds of people whose records they may want to review, including several Donald J. Trump’s most ardent ally in Congress, according to several people familiar with the documents, are not authorized to speak about their contents.
The 11 Republicans are Representatives Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar of Arizona, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Jody B. Hice of Georgia, Jim Jordan of Ohio and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania.
The conservatorship requests were accompanied by a statement saying that the committee was merely “collecting facts, not alleging any wrongdoing by any individual.” But the inclusion of the names of the Republicans, previously reported by CNN, suggests that the panel planned to scrutinize any role they may have played in fueling the violence.
“These are individuals who publicly supported January 6 and who participated in the January 6 uprising,” said Representative Bennie G. Thompson, Mississippi Democrat and board chair, said in an interview.
“We need to find out exactly how engaged they are in the event,” he said. “If you helped raise money, if you misinformed people, if you served on a planning committee – regardless of your role on January 6, I think the public has a right to Are known.”
The panel did not ask for the records of Mr. McCarthy, who said he had a tense phone call with Mr. Trump as crowds surrounded the Capitol, but Mr. Thompson said the names of the Republicans were top-of-the-line. head can still be added.
Mr Thompson said Mr McCarthy’s protests were “typical of someone who may or may not have been involved with January 6 and does not want that information to be made public.”
On Tuesday, Mr. McCarthy said Republicans would “not forget” and be “responsible” to tech companies that maintain records sought by the committee. His comments follow accusations of the committee’s work by Representative Jim Banks, Republican of Indiana, who called the panel’s tactics “authoritarian,” and Mr. Trump, who called it. is a “partisan spoof.”
Ms. Greene threatened on Fox News that telecommunications companies cooperating with the investigation would “shut down”.
Mr. McCarthy asserted, without citing any law, that it was illegal for tech companies to cooperate with the investigation, even though congressional investigations had obtained previous phone records. . He said that if his party gained control of the House of Commons, it would use its power to punish any behavior it did.
“If these companies comply with Democratic orders regarding the transfer of personal information, they are violating federal law and losing their ability to operate in the United States,” McCarthy wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. “If companies still choose to violate federal law, the majority of Republicans will not forget and will stand with Americans to hold them accountable under the full law.”
Representative Jamie Raskin, a Democrat of Maryland and a member of the committee, said he was taken aback by McCarthy’s remarks, describing them as obstructing the investigation.
“He is threatening people who cooperate with a congressional investigation,” Mr. Raskin said. “It was an amazing turn of events. Why is the minority leader of the House not interested in our ability to get all the facts regarding the January 6 attacks? “
Barbara L. McQuade, a former US attorney and University of Michigan law professor, called Mr. McCarthy’s claims “baseless,” noting that the panel did not ask for the content of any related information. which is lost.
“He is misrepresenting how the committee is doing too much to protect his political interests, to the detriment of Congress’s ability to do its job,” she said. public trust in our governmental institutions,” she said.
Over the past week, the selection committee has ramped up its work, taking three broad investigative steps: a filing asking seven federal agencies to partially focus on any ties he may have had. Trump may have to plan or execute the attack; a document asking 15 social media companies to document the effort to overturn the election and where violent domestic extremists may have been involved; and records preservation orders including Republican representatives.
The 11 Republicans include lawmakers leading the effort to challenge the results of the January 6 congressional election and who played at least some role in the effort to “Stop Theft” ” to protest the results, including spurring protests across the country and one in Washington in which attendees attacked the Capitol.
Some of the lawmakers named in the order have continued to publicly disseminate lies about the election that inspired riots and hinted at the possibility of more violence to come. Mr Cawthorn falsely claimed on Sunday that the election had been “rigged” and “stolen”, telling a crowd in Franklin, NC, that if elections were not protected in the future , it can lead to “bloodshed”.
The selection committee met twice a week, even during the summer recess of Congress, as members planned their next steps. Thompson said two more hearings are underway, one more in-depth about the pressure campaign Trump and his allies began to overturn Biden’s victory, and another. to find out who encouraged militias and extremist groups to come to Washington before the attack. .
“There is concern within the committee about the executive branch’s reliance on elected state officials to sway the outcome of the election,” Thompson said. “There is concern about identification with domestic terrorist organizations and their involvement and encouragement to participate in the march and uprising on January 6.”
Last week, the panel sought communications among top Trump administration officials about efforts to place politically loyal employees in senior positions prior to the attack; planning and funding pro-Trump rallies on January 5 and 6; and other efforts to prevent or slow Mr. Trump’s handover of the presidency to Mr. Biden.
It requested records of communications between the White House and Ali Alexander, who made the “Stop Theft” protests public, as well as Tom Van Flein, Mr. Gosar’s chief of staff.
Representative Adam B. Schiff, a California Democrat and committee member, said the requests were “broad” by design because the panel sought to produce a “comprehensive report”. He said they could be expanded to include more members of Congress if evidence emerged that it was necessary.
“We know that there are members who participated in the ‘Stop Theft’ protest; We are aware that there are members who were in direct contact with the president while the attack on the Capitol was underway,” he said. “Is there any number of members with very relevant information.”
On Friday, the panel sent letters to 15 social media companies – including websites that spread misinformation about election fraud, such as the pro-Trump site, theDonald.win – finding search for any documents in their possession relating to the attempt to overturn the election and any domestic violence by extremists involved in the January 6 protests and attacks.
The committee requested records of extremist and militia groups present on Capitol Hill that day, including QAnon, Proud Boys, Stop the Steal, Oath-Keepers and Three Percenters. A person familiar with the committee’s discussions said members plan to further investigate the plan between the militia groups to coordinate.
At least 10 suspected militant extremists had attended paramilitary training in Ohio, Florida and North Carolina before the breach, according to court documents. Suspected domestic violent extremists also “coordinated efforts to bring tactical equipment to the event, presumably to prevent violence,” according to an April homeland security analysis by The New York Times obtained through a public records request filed by the People’s Property group.
“There is no doubt that there are insurgent groups that have come to a standstill when it comes to violence,” Mr. Raskin said. “If you hear them talking after Jan. 6, it’s all about how close they came, and next time they’ll bring arms. “
A record-keeping request introduced on Monday asked telecom companies to keep information on file about cell tower locations, text messages and call logs, as well as information downloaded. to the cloud storage system.
Representative Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California and member of the committee, stressed that the request is “an investigation, not an accusation.”
“We’ll see what we find out,” she said. “It’s fair to say that you don’t have 10,000 people just randomly showing up and attacking Capitol Police officers, fooling them and threatening to kill the vice president and members of Congress just because they feel like it. there. There’s a reason, there’s a structure to this, and we need to discover everything about that. “