McCarthy warns companies not to turn over private data of Jan. 6 rioters: GOP majority 'won't forget'


House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Tuesday warned American telecommunication companies not to turn over records related to an investigation by House Democrats into the January 6 Capitol Hill riot. 

"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," the California Republican said in a statement to Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. "If these companies comply with the Democrat order to turn over private information, they are in violation of federal law and subject to losing their ability to operate in the United States. If they pursue this path, a Republican majority will not forget and will be ready to hold them fully accountable under the law."

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McCarthy’s comment comes after the select panel investigating the riot took its first steps toward gathering phone records from individuals involved in the riot and asked a variety of telecommunications companies to save any relevant records. The panel reached out to more than 30 companies and told them to hold records from April 1, 2020, to Jan. 31, 2021.

"The Select Committee seeks the preservation of these records as part of its examination of the violent attack on the Capitol and the broader context of efforts to delay or interfere with the peaceful transfer of power following the 2020 election," Chairman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi wrote in the letters to the companies, which range from cell phone giants AT&T and Verizon to social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and TikTok to conservative and far-right platforms Parler, 4chan and theDonald.win.

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Thompson said last week that the committee would be requesting the records preservation for "several hundred people" as the committee begins its probe into the insurrection, in which hundreds of Trump’s supporters seeking to overturn the election stormed the Capitol, brutally beat police, broke through windows and doors and sent lawmakers running for their lives. The letters do not ask the companies to turn over the records, though the committee could do so in the future.

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Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat on the committee, dismissed McCarthy’s statement and accused Republicans of attempting to obstruct the investigation.

"He’s scared," Schiff said on MSNBC. "And I think his boss is scared. They didn’t want this commission and this select committee to go forward. They certainly didn’t want it to go forward as it is on a bipartisan basis, and they don’t want the country to know exactly what they were involved in. And Kevin McCarthy lives to do whatever Trump wants. But he is trying to threaten these companies, and it shows yet again why this man, Kevin McCarthy, can never be allowed to go anywhere near the speaker’s office."

Associated Press contributed to this report