Republican representatives have sent a threatening letter to 13 telecommunications companies in an evident attempt to sabotage the January 6 committee’s investigation into the violent Capitol breach.
The committee had asked telecommunications companies recently to preserve call logs related to the attack, especially communications on or around that day, including, potentially, those of Republican lawmakers. The GOP representatives, evidently disquieted by this request, sent letters Friday threatening to take legal action against the companies if they comply with the committee’s request.
“[W]e will pursue all legal remedies” if the companies turn over records, the lawmakers wrote. The 11 letter signers included members like Mo Brooks (R-Alabama), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia), Paul Gosar (R-Arizona), Lauren Boebert (Colorado), and others who may be targeted by the committee for their alleged involvement in the day’s events and with the groups associated with the attack.
The lawmakers claim in their letter that Congress cannot inquire into “private affairs.” They say that it would be illegal for the communications companies to comply with the request. That claim is dubious, however, as communications from a member of Congress related to the violent attempt to overturn the results of the presidential election are a matter of public interest. Moreover, legal experts have said that they don’t know of any law that the inquiry would break.
Not only was the content of the threatening letters dubious, but they also sent at least one of the letters to the wrong person. The Republicans’ letter to Yahoo was sent to Marissa Mayer, who they addressed as the CEO of the company. Mayer, however, left the company over four years ago in 2017.
The formal threat follows a similar statement made by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) last week. If the companies complied with the committee request, “a Republican majority will not forget and will stand with Americans to hold them fully accountable under the law,” McCarthy said in a statement last Wednesday.
Legal experts have said that his statement may have broken certain ethics standards, however, as it may be viewed as an attempt to obstruct the investigation. McCarthy himself may have his communications records turned over under the request because of his phone call with Donald Trump from January 6 — a phone call that he has been guarded about, nearly eight months later.
The Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed an ethics complaint over McCarthy’s statement, saying that it was a violation of House rules. “Threatening retaliation for complying with legally valid document demands and preservation requests appears” to be in violation of a rule that bars obstructing congressional investigations.
Some legal experts have also said that McCarthy’s threat could have broken the law. At the very least, it appears that the GOP is trying its hardest to stop certain information from becoming public — information that could harm the Republican party or suggest corruption at the highest levels.
The first hearing by the committee has revealed largely what the public already knows: January 6 was a horrifying day for those who work in and around the Capitol, and that it was Trump followers who perpetrated that terror.
But new documents and communications that the committee has requested for review may uncover a large trove of information tying Republicans and Trump to the attack. The committee has filed a request with several government agencies asking for a huge swath of information, such as communications related to the attack from the Trump White House and from a long list of Trump allies, including members of his cabinet.