National Security

Democrats Ask Tech Companies To Preserve Texts, Private Records Of Speakers At Trump’s January ‘Stop The Steal’ Rally

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Ailan Evans Tech Reporter
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The Select Committee investigating the Capitol riots sent letters to 35 technology, social media, and telecommunications companies Monday ordering they preserve an enormous amount of private communications records.

The letters, signed by Select Committee chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, were sent to telecommunications companies including AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile, as well as social media companies such as Facebook, Twitter, 4chan, and Google. The Select Committee requested the companies preserve information dating from April 2020 to Jan 31., 2021 about people charged with crimes related to the riots, as well as information on those involved in organizing, speaking or funding rallies objecting to the certification of the 2020 presidential election.

The committee demanded the companies preserve identifying information such as addresses, telephone numbers, IP addresses, bank account numbers and names. In a letter sent to U.S. Cellular, the committee also requested the preservation of taxpayer identification numbers, including social security numbers.

Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson and Rep. Liz Cheney joined by fellow committee members, speak to the media following a hearing of the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson and Rep. Liz Cheney joined by fellow committee members, speak to the media following a hearing of the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Lawmakers also asked for information related to communications, such as dates, times, senders and recipients, as well as the actual content of the communications themselves including recorded phone messages, texts of emails, videos, and photographs.(RELATED: Rep. Jim Banks Accuses ‘Soviet’ Jan 6. Committee Of ‘Weaponizing’ Government Power)

Thompson had announced his intentions last week to send the preservation orders, and indicated that the requested records could include congressional members. Former President Donald Trump held a rally in front of the Capitol building on Jan. 6, and could therefore be included in the preservation orders as well.

The orders follow two requests made by the Select Committee last week seeking additional information into the events surrounding the Capitol riots. The committee on Friday requested 15 social media companies hand over internal documents and communications related to the riots, while on Wednesday it requested phone records from the Archivist of the United States for over 100 Trump administration officials, including Trump himself.

Republicans have protested the committee’s requests and characterized its investigation as authoritarian and politically-motivated, with Rep. Jim Banks describing the Select Committee as “Soviet.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy issued a statement Tuesday urging the companies not to hand over any private data to the Select Committee, warning that doing so would violate federal law.

“Adam Schiff, Bennie Thompson, and Nancy Pelosi’s attempts to strong-arm private companies to turn over individuals’ private data would put every American with a phone or computer in the crosshairs of a surveillance state run by Democrat politicians,” McCarthy said. “A Republican majority will not forget and will stand with Americans to hold them [companies] fully accountable under the law.”

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include a statement from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

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