The House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol building has obtained text messages and other data from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’s phone, according to a report from CNN.
Around two years of messages from Jones and other far right individuals were handed over to the committee by Mark Bankston, a lawyer for two parents of a victim of the 2012 Sandy Hook mass shooting who sued Jones for propagating lies about their family over the past decade.
CNN learned that the data had been handed over to the select committee through a source with knowledge of the transfer. Bankston himself has not confirmed transferring the data, although he has said that he is “cooperating with the committee.”
Bankston came into possession of Jones’s phone data during the defamation trial after the information was accidentally sent to him by the lawyer of the InfoWars host. Bankston responded to the sending of data by offering Jones’s lawyers a chance to indicate whether or not they were privileged. After several days with no response, Bankston used the texts to demonstrate that Jones had lied in a deposition to the court; Jones had falsely claimed that he hadn’t had any conversations about Sandy Hook parents when in fact he had.
The two parents who sued Jones were awarded $4.1 million in compensatory damages and more than $45 million in punitive damages.
For years, Jones falsely asserted that the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax, that no children died in the shooting and that the parents speaking out against gun violence were paid actors, enlisted by the government to promote gun control initiatives. Jones’s lies led to several years of harassment toward the parents by his viewers, including stalking and death threats.
Around two years of text messages and other communications data were included in the information obtained from Jones’s legal counsel. Because Jones was involved in planning the “Stop the Steal” rally — including encouraging his fanbase to appear in Washington D.C. that day and riling up the mob as it attacked the Capitol — his communications regarding the attack are of interest to the January 6 committee.
Per evidence the committee has previously obtained, Jones was in regular communication with leaders of the Oath Keepers, a far right organization that played an instrumental role in the attack. The group had reportedly offered to provide Jones with security on the day of the attack.
The newly obtained evidence may be needed to supplement incomplete information that the conspiracy theorist has been unwilling to provide to the committee. Jones previously sat for a deposition with the panel, but by his own accounts invoked his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination “almost 100 times.”
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-California) said on CNN Sunday night that Jones’s texts could offer valuable insight into the planning of the attack.
“We know that his behavior did incentivize some of the January 6 conduct and we want to know more about that,” she said. “We don’t know what we’ll find in the texts because we haven’t seen them. But we’ll look at it and learn more, I’m sure.”