The House Jan. 6 Committee demanded on Monday that 35 social media, email, and telecommunications firms preserve records that the panel has deemed potentially relevant to its investigation into the Capitol insurrection.
The demand, which covers firms including Yahoo! Mail, USCellular, 4Chan, and encrypted messaging app Signal, marks another instance in which the Committee has taken a sweeping approach towards the probe.
The individual targets of the request are unknown; the Committee only sent out letters outlining the categories of records sought, not the relevant people or entities. The panel, however, is reportedly requesting documents related to members of Congress.
“As Chairman Thompson previewed last week, the Select Committee today sent letters to 35 private-sector entities, including telecommunications, email, and social media companies, instructing them to preserve records which may be relevant to the Select Committee’s investigation,” a panel spokesman said in a statement. “The Select Committee is at this point gathering facts, not alleging wrongdoing by any individual.”
The preservation letter asks that the companies retain records from April 1, 2020 until Jan. 31, 2021.
It comes after the panel has begun to issue a series of public demands for documents. Last week, the Committee demanded that eight federal agencies, including Trump White House record custodian the National Archives, produce documents covering nearly the entire scope of the previous administration’s attempts to sow doubt in the 2020 election and the resulting Jan. 6 insurrection. The panel also demanded Jan. 6 and Big Lie-related records from multiple social media and tech firms.
This request, with its unknown individual targets, suggests an aggressively targeted focus. Signal, which advertises itself as having privacy built into its systems, is asked to preserve the “content of communications.”
Though the specific list of targets for the investigation is not available, the letters name broad categories of people that fall under the Committee’s request.
Those include everyone charged with crimes related to the insurrection, those involved in organizing Jan. 5 and 6 Stop the Steal rallies, and “individuals potentially involved with discussions of plans to challenge, delay, or interfere with the January 6, 2021, certification or otherwise attempt to overturn election results, in the days preceding and up through the attack.”
CNN reported on Monday that the panel intended to ask for the phone records of Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Jim Jordan (R-OH), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Mo Brooks (R-AL), Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Jody Hice (R-GA) and Scott Perry (R-PA).
It is not clear which of those, or if any others, made it onto the final list.
The preservation letter goes on to say that those named are not necessarily suspected of wrongdoing; they may simply possess “relevant information to aid the factfinding of the Select Committee.”
The panel asks that the companies preserve “metadata, subscriber information, technical usage information, and content of communications” for those named.
The list of firms is broad, and includes right-wing social media network Parler, phone provider Sprint, and fringe social network MeWe, among many others.