The House select committee investigating the January 6 riot has formally subpoenaed the phone records of more than 100 people, a substantial number that includes former Trump officials and associates of the ex-President such as his one-time chief of staff Mark Meadows, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.
The committee has already begun receiving some data from phone providers, the sources said. The records do not include the content of the calls but rather details about who called or texted whom, when and for how long, giving them the ability to draw a web of communications before, during and after the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.
Congressional investigators also believe this data will help them piece together communications between those in former President Donald Trump’s official orbit and the people who organized the rally that preceded the Capitol attack and rioters who participated in the violence.
While the records do not include information about the substance of those communications, the panel believes it may be able to learn those details from individuals who are cooperating with the investigation.
“As you know, this is a gigantic puzzle. We’ve got many pieces and we need to put some more pieces together,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a member of the committee, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Tuesday. “This is not the content any of text or phone call. It’s time, place, it’s data. Really it’s metadata, and it will help us put together the picture.”
Sources tell CNN that most of the phone records subpoenaed by the committee belong to individuals who have also been looked at by the Justice Department for their actions on January 6 but the panel has also requested communications of some people in Trump’s inner circle, including Meadows.
An attorney for Meadows took issue with the subpoenas, writing in a letter to the committee on Tuesday that they are part of the reason his client will no longer cooperate with the panel.
“We learned over the weekend that the Select Committee had, without even the basic courtesy of notice to us, issued wide ranging subpoenas for information from a third party communications provider without regard to either the broad breadth of the information sought, which would include intensely personal communications,” Meadows’ attorney wrote.
The panel cast a huge net for phone records over the summer, asking telecom companies to preserve them for a wide range of people. Under these subpoenas, those companies now must turn over what are known as “call detail records.”
In addition to Meadows, sources tell CNN the committee has subpoenaed call detail records belonging to many of the same people who have been ordered to turn over documents and appear for interviews as part of the investigation, including those belonging to people connected to various evevnts preceding the US Capitol attack.
“Wireless carriers are compelled to comply with valid subpoenas and do so every day,” CTIA, a trade association that represents the US wireless communications industry, told CNN in a statement.
The association also said that “affected customers were provided notice and a copy of the subpoena.”
One subpoena reviewed by CNN requests “all call, message, Internet Protocol and data connection detail records associated with the phone number” from November 1, 2020 through January 31, 2021. The letter also asks for information related to phone numbers, IP addresses and devices that the account in question has communicated with.
Jason Funes, who coordinated event operations and security at pro-Trump events in Washington after the election, was among the individuals whose data is being sought by the committee.
His 66-year-old mother in Florida received a letter from Verizon last week, informing her that a House subcommittee demanded from the phone company subscriber connection records on all accounts under the family’s plan, and that Verizon would turn over the details unless there was a court challenge by December 15.
Funes was taken aback by the breadth of the request — and that it went to his mother.
“Why weaponize the federal government to go after my family to get to me?” Funes told CNN on Monday. “It’s nothing to do with them, and I don’t want them to worry.”
Funes said he is a “willing witness” and wishes the committee had contacted him directly for information.
Lawmakers not subpoenaed
Chairman Bennie Thompson confirmed to CNN last week that the committee had not yet subpoenaed the phone records belonging to members of Congress but said that that step is “absolutely” still on the table.
“It’s an investigation, and we are methodically walking through the investigation,” the Mississippi Democrat said. CNN previously reported that the panel asked telecommunication companies to preserve the records of several GOP members of Congress, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a largely procedural step that prompted immediate backlash from Republicans who warned of political retribution if the committee moved forward in seeking that information.
Thompson told CNN the committee is not at the stage of the probe where the lawmakers’ records would be of use, but did not rule it out.
“At that point, we’ll make the ultimate decision, whether that’s the direction we want to go,” he added.
In August, the committee requested that telecommunications companies also preserve the phone records of 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 request for the preservation of phone records of certain lawmakers and members of the former President’s orbit went to 35 social media and telecommunication companies, including Verizon Wireless, AT&T, T-Mobile, US Cellular and Sprint.
The committee specifically asked companies to 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 also targeted 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.
So far, companies have cooperated with the committee’s subpoenas, but they are also restrained in what they can turn over to Congress under the law, according to a person familiar with the investigation.
Under the Stored Communications Act, a law Congress wrote, companies can’t be forced to turn over content of messages to the House.
A congressional investigation is starkly different – and more limited – than the massive criminal probe being conducted by the Justice Department. Federal prosecutors using grand juries can subpoena communications, putting text chains, iPhone videos and private app messages at the core of major conspiracy accusations among nearly 700 criminal cases.
This story has been updated with additional developments Tuesday.