House Jan. 6 committee subpoenaing phone records of private individuals, Rep. Banks says

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The House Jan. 6 Committee sent subpoenas to phone companies for the records of private individuals, Rep. Jim Banks told Fox News Thursday, as the controversial panel plows ahead with its investigation into the attack on the Capitol earlier this year. 

The subpoenas follow preservation orders the committee issued to telecom companies in August for a swath of data pertaining to many individuals. It isn’t clear exactly whose records are being subpoenaed by the committee now, but a GOP aide also knowledgeable about the subpoenas said the committee hasn’t issued any for phone records of members of Congress yet. 

“The committee has moved forward with issuing subpoenas to telephone companies,” the GOP aide said Wednesday. “Our understanding at this point is they have not subpoenaed member information, but they are subpoenaing telephone records of private American citizens.”

Supporters of President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.
(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

“The fact they’re doing this in secret… is what makes this an unprecedented event in congressional history — that a rogue committee would go out and subpoena private citizens’ phone records,” Banks, R-Ind., told Fox News. 

“They sent press releases out about all of their other subpoenas. Why would they not provide full transparency about their activities on the subpoenas that they sent out… for what we know are private citizens?” Banks added. The GOP aide said the subpoenas were sent weeks ago. 

The Washington Examiner first reported the story about the subpoenas for private citizens’ phone records. 

The Jan. 6 Committee announced in August that it had sent preservation orders to 35 private companies, including telecom giants Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T. For each of those companies, it demanded that they preserve “cellular location information,” “cellular call data records,” “stored content,” and “reference documents.”

FILE – In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo with the White House in the background, former  President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Washington. 
((AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File))

The committee sent the orders primarily to social media companies like 8kun, Snap Inc., YouTube and Facebook. But major phone companies including AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile also received preservation orders. 

“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,” the committee said at the time.

“I’m not gonna get too far ahead of what we’re releasing. But we’re gonna get – we’ll be thorough, we’ll get to the bottom,” Jan. 6 Committee member Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., told Fox News when asked about subpoenas for private citizens’ phone records Wednesday. 

“I won’t say anything on that yet,” he added when pressed again. 

Ranking Member Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., simply said “no comment” when asked about subpoenas. 

Cheney’s office did not respond when asked about subpoenas for private citizens’ phone records. Neither did a spokesperson for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. The Jan. 6 Committee declined to comment. 

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Cheney is one of two Republicans on the Jan. 6 committee. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon all did not respond to requests for comment from Fox News.

After the committee issued its preservation orders to telecom companies in August, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., warned those companies not to comply with subpoenas from the committee. 

“Adam Schiff, Benny 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 said at the time. “If they pursue this path, a Republican majority will not forget and will be ready to hold them fully accountable under the law.”

Republicans harshly criticize the Jan. 6 Committee for alleged overreach, and for the fact it only has two GOP members – Cheney and Kinzinger. Both of them were selected by Pelosi after she blocked McCarthy’s picks for the committee, including Banks. 

“This is an entirely partisan witch hunt. It’s not at all interested in the facts surrounding what happened with the breakdown of security at the Capitol to prevent something like that from ever happening again,” Banks said Thursday. 

Democrats, meanwhile, say the committee is running a critical investigation to hold accountable the people responsible for the mob of Trump supporters that attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6.

“Let’s remember what the Select Committee has set out to do,” committee Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said Wednesday. “Provide answers to the American people about the worst attack on the legislative branch since the war of 1812, a violent attempt to halt our Constitutionally required responsibility of certifying the presidential election—and to learn everything about what led up to the day of violence.”

Fox News’ Andrew Mark Miller contributed to this report. 

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