January 28, 2023

WASHINGTON – Rep. Kevin McCarthy, Republican leader of the House of Representatives, has threatened retaliation against any company that adheres to the congressional committee that led the uprising by the 6th right-wing members of Congress who urged overturning the 2020 election results .

Mr McCarthy’s warning was an escalation of his efforts to thwart a full account of the deadly attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob and his most recent attempt to get the former President and Republican lawmakers to review any links to the violence . It came after he led the GOP’s opposition to the creation of an independent bipartisan commission to investigate the insurrection and then pulled five Republican Congressmen off the Democrats’ own special committee to boycott the process.

In historic preservation orders the special committee sent to 35 technology firms this week, the panel’s members included the names of hundreds of people whose records they might want to review, including some of Donald J. Trump’s most ardent allies in Congress, according to several people. who are familiar with the documents and are not authorized to speak about their content.

The eleven Republicans are MPs Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar from Arizona, Lauren Boebert from Colorado, Mo Brooks from Alabama, Madison Cawthorn from North Carolina, Matt Gaetz from Florida, Marjorie Taylor Greene from Georgia, Louie Gohmert from Texas, Jody B. Hice of Georgia, Jim Jordan from Ohio, and Scott Perry from Pennsylvania.

The preservation requests were accompanied by a statement saying that the committee had only “gathered facts and not alleged any wrongdoing by any person”. But the inclusion of Republican names, which CNN had previously reported on, suggested that the panel planned to consider any role they might have played in promoting the violence.

“These are the people who publicly supported January 6 and the people who took part in the riot on January 6,” said Bennie G. Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and chairman of the panel, in an interview.

“We need to find out exactly how much your participation was in this event,” he said. “If you’ve helped raise money, if you’ve provided misinformation to people, if you’ve served on a planning committee – whatever your role on Jan 6th, I think the public has a right to it to experience.”

The panel did not ask to keep the records of Mr McCarthy, who said he had a strained phone call with Mr Trump when the mob was besieging the Capitol, but Mr Thompson said the Republican’s name could be added.

Mr Thompson said Mr McCarthy’s assertions were “typical of someone who may or may not have been involved on Jan. 6 and does not want this information to be made public”.

On Tuesday, McCarthy said Republicans would “remember” and “hold accountable” the tech companies holding records sought by the committee. His remarks followed indictments of the committee’s work by Rep. Jim Banks, Indiana Republican, who called the panel’s tactics “authoritarian,” and Mr. Trump, who called it “partisan deception.”

Ms. Greene threatened on Fox News that telecommunications companies that cooperated in the investigation would be “closed down”.

McCarthy claimed, without citing any law, that it would be illegal for the tech companies to cooperate with the investigation, even though the Congressional investigation had previously received telephone recordings. He said if his party took control of the house it would use its power to punish anyone who did so.

“If these companies comply with the democratic order to share private information, they violate federal law and can lose their legal capacity in the United States,” McCarthy wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. “If companies still choose to break federal law, a Republican majority will not forget Americans and will stand by Americans to hold them fully accountable under the law.”

Rep. Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and member of the committee, said he was stunned by what Mr McCarthy said, describing it as a hindrance to an investigation.

“He’s making threats against people involved in a Congressional investigation,” Raskin said. “That is an amazing turn of events. Why shouldn’t the House minority leader be interested in us learning all the facts about the January 6 attack? “

Barbara L. McQuade, a former US attorney and law professor at the University of Michigan, called Mr. McCarthy’s allegations “baseless” and stated that the panel had not requested the contents of a notice.

“He is falsely portraying the committee as arrogant to protect its own political interests, to the detriment of Congress’ ability to do its job and public confidence in our government institutions,” she said.

Over the past week, the special committee stepped up its work and undertook three far-reaching investigative steps: a request for records from seven federal agencies, partially focusing on connections Mr Trump may have had in planning or carrying out the attack; a document requesting material from 15 social media companies about election cancellation efforts and local violent extremists who may be involved; and record-keeping orders including Republican agents.

The 11 Republicans include lawmakers who spearheaded efforts to challenge the January 6 election result in Congress and those who played at least a role in Stop the Steal’s efforts to protest the results, including sponsorship of rallies across the country and the one in Washington that attacked the Capitol.

Some of the legislators named in the Order continued to publicize the election lies that inspired the riot, pointing out the possibility of further violence. Mr Cawthorn falsely claimed on Sunday that the elections were “rigged” and “stolen” and told a crowd in Franklin, NC that it could lead to “bloodshed” if future elections were not secured.

The special committee meets twice a week, even during the summer recess of Congress, while its members plan their next steps. Mr Thompson said two more hearings were in the works, one to dig deeper into the pressure campaign Mr Trump and his allies were starting to overturn President Biden’s victory and another to find out who was encouraging militias and extremist groups, to get to Washington before the attack.

“The committee has concerns that the executive branch is relying on elected state officials to change the election result,” Thompson said. “There is concern about identification with domestic terrorist organizations and their participation and encouragement to take part in January 6th and the uprising.”

Last week, the panel sought contacts among top officials in the Trump administration about attempts to recruit politically loyal staff in leadership positions in the run-up to the attack; planning and funding pro-Trump rallies on January 5th and 6th; and other attempts to stop or slow down the process of Mr. Trump’s handover of the presidency to Mr. Biden.

She requested a record of communications between the White House and Ali Alexander, who published the “Stop the Stealing” rallies, and Tom Van Flein, Mr. Gosar’s chief of staff.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff, a Democrat from California and a member of the committee, said the inquiries were inherently “broad” when the panel attempted to produce a “comprehensive report.” He said they could be extended to more members of Congress if there is evidence that it is necessary.

“We know there are members who were involved in the ‘Stop the Steal’ rally; We know there are members who were in direct contact with the president during the attack on the Capitol, ”he said. “There are a lot of members who have very pertinent information.”

On Friday, the panel sent letters to 15 social media companies – including websites spreading misinformation about electoral fraud, such as the pro-Trump website theDonald.win – looking for any documents they had that linked to the Efforts to call for election cancellation and domestic violence involve extremists in connection with the January 6 rally and attack.

The committee had previously requested records of extremist groups and militias present at the Capitol that day, including QAnon, the Proud Boys, Stop the Steal, the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters. A person familiar with the committee’s discussions said that its members intended to further investigate the militia’s coordination plans.

At least ten suspected militia extremists participated in paramilitary training sessions in Ohio, Florida and North Carolina prior to the break-in, according to court records. Suspected domestic violent extremists “also coordinated efforts to bring tactical equipment to the event, presumably in anticipation of violence,” according to an April analysis by Homeland Security for the New York Times submitted by Property of the People group.

“There were undoubtedly insurgent groups who were absolutely determined to commit violence,” said Raskin. “If you listen to their babble after January. 6, it’s all about how close they got and the next time they’ll be carrying guns. “

The record-keeping request filed on Monday asked telecommunications companies to keep information about cell tower locations, text messages and call logs, and information uploaded to cloud storage systems.

Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat from California and a member of the committee, said the request was “an investigation, not an allegation.”

“We’ll see what we find out,” she said. “It’s fair to say that 10,000 people don’t randomly show up and attack Capitol cops, maim them, and threaten to kill the Vice President and members of Congress just because they want to. There was a reason, there was a structure, and we have to uncover everything about it. “