The House Select Committee investigating the deadly January 6 riot has requested that a group of telecommunications companies preserve the phone records of a group of GOP members of Congress and former President Donald Trump, as well as members of the Trump family, who played some role in the “Stop the Steal” rally that served as the prelude to the Capitol insurrection.
The records request is the first step in the committee’s investigatory process and could signal the direction they plan to go when they call witnesses.
It is unclear what means the committee will use to compel the telecommunications companies to cooperate with their request. The committee does have subpoena power, but requesting the information – especially from members of Congress – could lead to a lengthy legal battle.
The committee did not make public the names of the lawmakers whose records they are targeting. But multiple sources familiar with the committee’s work have confirmed for CNN at least part of list including many of the members of Congress included in the request.
According to the sources, this group was targeted because the committee concluded each of these lawmakers played some role in the “Stop the Steal” rally. They either attended, spoke, actively planned or encouraged people to attend.
The list is said to be evolving and could be added to as the investigation steps up. As of now it includes Republican Reps. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Paul Gosar also of Arizona, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Jody Hice of Georgia and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania.
In addition to their connection to the rally, this group also represents some of former Trump’s most loyal supporters in Congress, many of whom continue to peddle Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election. Many of these members also voted to object to the election results on the day of the insurrection.
A spokesperson for the Select Committee declined to comment on the lawmakers and members of Trump’s family included in the preservation of records request list.
Select Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, previously said publicly that the committee would be asking for the phone records of “several hundred” individuals. In addition to the members of Congress, CNN has learned the committee will also request the records of the former President be preserved, as well as his daughter Ivanka, his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, as well as his daughter-in-law Lara Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle, who is Trump Jr.’s girlfriend and worked on the campaign.
The request for the preservation of phone records of certain lawmakers and members of the former President’s orbit were part of a larger preservation request to 35 social media and telecommunication companies including Verizon Wireless, AT&T, T-Mobile, US Cellular and Sprint. The committee also made separate preservation requests to search engine and social media companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, Signal, Slack, YouTube, Twitch and Twitter.
The committee is specifically asking companies preserve the records of individuals who could serve as links between those who were involved with organizing or planning the rallies around January 6 and violence committed the day of the insurrection.
The committee is also specifically targeting individuals who have been charged by the Department of Justice or the District of Columbia for their affiliation with the attack and those who were attempting “to challenge, delay, or interfere” with the certification of the 2020 presidential election results. Acknowledging the wide net of preservation requests it has made, the committee wrote, “As the Select Committee continues its work, we anticipate delivering to you document requests for more specific categories of information.” The committee also stated that the request did not assume wrongdoing on the part of those affected.
In its request to Verizon for example, the select committee asks that the cell site location information, call data records and content, cloud or storage content and subscriber information be preserved. The committee also asked that if the company cannot respond to its request without alerting the specific subscriber or account in question to contact the committee directly.
“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” a spokesperson for the Committee said in a statement.
While asking for the phone records of these individuals may not come as a surprise, there is one notable name not expected to be included in this group of requests. Sources say House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s name was not included. McCarthy notably spoke to the former President during the height of the riot. The contents of that call are expected to be of great interest to the committee. Thompson has repeatedly not ruled out calling McCarthy to testify in front of the committee if that is where the investigation leads. That doesn’t mean that committee will never request his records, they just are choosing not to at this stage of the investigation.
CNN has reached out to the members of Congress on the list for a response, but Republicans have already reacted negatively to the prospect of the committee requesting this information.
Brooks tweeted later Monday morning, “’#Socialists & ‘Pelosi Republicans’ (Cheney & Kinzinger) seek my phone records? Three results: 1 Total waste of taxpayer money. 2 Boredom for who looks at my records. 3 Russian Collusion Hoax 2.0. Why not subpoena Socialists who support BLM & ANTIFA?”
Greene said in a statement to CNN that the anticipated request is “all an attempt to smear us and remove us from office. Or even worse, put the strongest political enemies of the Democrats in jail.”
Rep. Jim Banks, whom McCarthy originally picked to serve as the ranking member on the committee but was turned away by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, sent Thompson a letter on Friday, warning him against taking this step.
“Rifling through the call logs of your colleagues would depart from more than 230 years of Congressional oversight,” the Indiana Republican wrote. “This type of authoritarian undertaking has no place in the House of Representatives and the information you seek has no conceivable legislative purpose.”
Jordan, who is among those whose records the committee is requesting, last week warned that there could be political retribution.
“I have nothing to hide,” he said, but added that “if they cross this line,” Republicans will keep asking questions about their Democratic colleagues.