House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyOvernight Defense & National Security: War ends, but finger pointing continues McCarthy says GOP ‘will not forget’ if firms hand records to Jan. 6 panel GOP demands keeping troops in Kabul until all Americans evacuated MORE (R-Calif.) said Tuesday that Republicans “will not forget” if telecommunications companies turn phone and email records over to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
The comment follows the select committee sending letters to 35 companies Monday asking them to preserve a number of records — something McCarthy argues “would put every American with a phone or computer in the crosshairs of a surveillance state run by Democratic politicians.”
The letters do not reveal whose information is being sought but specifically ask for the records of those involved in rallies to protest the certification of election results — a group that includes lawmakers.
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“If these companies comply with the Democrat order to turn over private information, they are in violation of federal law and subject to losing their ability to operate in the United States,” McCarthy wrote.
McCarthy did not cite which law prohibits telecommunications companies from complying with the committee’s request.
“If companies still choose to violate federal law, a Republican majority will not forget and will stand with Americans to hold them fully accountable under the law,” he said.
Monday’s letters are not formal subpoenas, but they do ask the companies to maintain the confidentiality of those whose information is being requested.
”If you are not able or willing to respond to this request without alerting the subscribers or the accounts, please contact the Select Committee prior to proceeding,” the committee wrote in several of the letters.
The committee sent the letters to a wide variety of companies, including communications giants such as Google and Microsoft and all major cellphone carriers. They also include requests to encrypted messaging app Signal, right-leaning social media networks such as Parler, and more fringe websites such as 4chan and Gab.
Communications companies often seek to alert those whose records are being sought, a practice companies such as Google recently fought for as the Department of Justice under former President TrumpDonald TrumpMcCarthy says GOP ‘will not forget’ if firms hand records to Jan. 6 panel The Memo: Defensive Biden tries to put Afghanistan behind him Hillicon Valley: Agencies on alert for ransomware attacks ahead of Labor Day weekend MORE initiated seizures of communications records from journalists.
While another request sent to many of the same companies last week asked for troves of data about disinformation surrounding the election as well as their internal reviews of different extremist groups, Monday’s letters asked the companies to retain records related more specifically to the unnamed individuals.
The letter to Google asks for all email messages, Google Drive files, and location history and deletion records. The request to Facebook and Twitter likewise asks for all communications. The phone companies included in the request have been asked to retain all text messages, cell site location data and call data, which would show who called whom and detail how long they spoke. Letters to the other websites ask more broadly for user data.
A Select Committee spokesman said the panel wouldn’t be “deterred” in response to McCarthy’s statement.
“The Select Committee is investigating the violent attack on the Capitol and attempt to overturn the results of last year’s election,” the statement read. “We’ve asked companies not to destroy records that may help answer questions for the American people. The committee’s efforts won’t be deterred by those who want to whitewash or cover up the events of January 6th, or obstruct our investigation.”
Updated: 8:34 p.m.