House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) warned telecommunications firms against complying with the Jan. 6 select committee’s call that they turn over phone and email records as part of its probe, releasing a statement that Republicans “will not forget” if they adhere with the request.
His comments come shortly after the panel sent letters to 35 telecommunications and social media companies asking them to preserve the records of individuals, including lawmakers, that may have been implicated in the deadly attack on the Capitol, when a group of pro-Trump rioters stormed the building in an attempt to derail the certification of the election.
“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 tweeted on Tuesday.
“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. 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.”
Lawmakers on the panel have not ruled out subpoenaing McCarthy, who spoke with the president on the day of the siege, to testify before the committee. And communications between the White House and conservative Reps. Mo Brooks (Ala.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Paul Gosar (Ariz.), Lauren Boebert (Colo.), Madison Cawthorn (NC), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Jody Hice (Ga.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), Scott Perry (Pa.) and Jim Jordan (Ohio) are expected to be investigated, CNN first reported.
While the letters sent Monday do not include specific names of individuals, the committee asked for the preservation of information including emails, location history, deletion records, Google Drive files and communications made on social media platforms. And phone companies have been asked to preserve text messages and call and location data.
While McCarthy blasted the committee’s calls for information, proponents have accused him of trying to obstruct the investigation.
“The Select Committee is investigating the violent attack on the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the results of last year’s election,” committee spokesman Tim Mulvey told the Washington Post in a statement. “We’ve asked companies not to destroy records that may help answer questions for the American people.”
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) slammed McCarthy’s comments, alleging he is attempting to hide evidence.
“This just looks like a guy who knows that his team did a lot to work with the president and to assemble, incite, and assist with the insurrection, and now he’s got the shovels out because he wants to bury the evidence,” he said during an appearance on MSNBC on Wednesday.