The House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol building has asked Mark Bankston, a lawyer representing parents of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting, to hand over text messages and other phone data from right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
On Thursday, Bankston revealed that the committee has contacted him regarding the messages, which he had received during the defamation trial that was brought against Jones by the parents of Sandy Hook victims. The committee has not yet announced the request for the data.
Jones was found guilty of defaming the parents of Sandy Hook victims late last year. For years, Jones had lied to followers of his Infowars website, claiming in contradiction to proven facts that the parents were paid actors, that their children were never killed in the attack, and that the shooting itself was a hoax.
Don’t miss a beat
Get the latest news and thought-provoking analysis from Truthout.
On Wednesday, Jones took the witness stand during the phase of the trial aimed at determining what he owes to the families of Sandy Hook victims. Bankston, who represents two Sandy Hook parents, pointed out in his cross-examination that Jones had lied in a deposition to the court about not having any communications on his cell phone regarding the parents.
Bankston said that he knew Jones had lied because a digital copy of all the data from Jones’s phone had been sent to him by Jones’s own lawyers, apparently by accident.
“Mr. Jones, did you know that 12 days ago, your attorneys messed up and sent me an entire digital copy of your entire cell phone with every text message you’ve sent for the past two years?” Bankston asked.
After Jones’s lawyers accidentally sent him the data, Bankston had responded by asking whether or not any of the data was privileged. When Jones’s lawyers failed to answer, the communications of the far right conspiracy theorist became admissible in the trial.
Attorney Mark Bankston told #AlexJones that his attorney messed up and sent him Jones' entire cell phone history. "Did you know that your lawyers messed up and sent me your entire cell phone texting history 12 days ago?" Bankston asked. "You know what perjury is right?" pic.twitter.com/IfIiP5UTIg
— Law&Crime Network (@LawCrimeNetwork) August 3, 2022
“You know what perjury is, right?” Bankston asked, informing Jones that he had been caught in a lie.
Although Jones tried to blame his counsel for the lie, the texts were on his cell phone. The New York Times reported that he appeared “visibly uncomfortable” during the examination, with “sweat running into his eyes and down his neck.”
The January 6 committee has a vested interest in Jones’s communications over the past two years because the InfoWars host was involved in much of the lead-up to the January 6 Capitol attack. Jones parroted former President Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election had been stolen, urging his audience to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power to now-President Joe Biden. Jones is also closely associated with Stewart Rhodes, leader of the Oath Keepers, a far right extremist group that played an instrumental role in the attack.
Previously released texts between the Oath Keepers and Jones showed that the group had discussed the possibility of providing him with security in Washington D.C. on the day of the attack.
Jones sat for a deposition with the January 6 committee last year after receiving a subpoena order, but utilized his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination “almost 100 times,” according to his own account.
Although it’s currently unknown why the committee has requested Jones’s phone data, it’s possible that they want to revisit the evidence he previously presented them with.