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House GOP Leader Accused of Breaking Law for Warning Telecom Companies Not to Give Phone Records to 1/6 Committee

House GOP Leader Accused of Breaking Law for Warning Telecom Companies Not to Give Phone Records to 1/6 Committee
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

Republican lawmakers continue to dismiss the severity of January 6, when a mob of pro-Trump extremists, motivated by Trump's lies about the 2020 election, stormed the United States Capitol in a deadly failed insurrection with the hope of forcibly undoing then-President-elect Joe Biden's victory.

After Senate Republicans killed a bill that granted broad concessions to the GOP to establish a bipartisan committee investigating the riots, House Democrats led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California instead established a select committee.

Pelosi rejected two of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California's Republican nominations to the committee, prompting him to withdraw his nominations all together, leaving Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois as the committee's only Republicans. Cheney and Kinzinger are personae non gratae within the party, however, due to their criticisms of Trump.

Weeks after a hearing with Capitol and D.C. Metro police officers who defended the Capitol during the insurrection, the committee is now scrutinizing the Republican lawmakers who appeared to promote violence ahead of the riots. On Monday, the committee asked telecom companies to retain the records of certain members of Congress for potential investigation.

McCarthy warned the companies not to comply, saying:

"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 companies still choose to violate federal law, a Republican majority will not forget and will stand with Americans to hold them fully accountable under the law."

The warning that a Republican majority "will not forget" if the companies comply raised a number of red flags.

This is particularly true in regards to 18 U.S. Code § 1505, which states:

"Whoever corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication influences, obstructs, or impedes or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede the due and proper administration of ... any inquiry or investigation [that] is being had by either House, or any committee of either House or any joint committee of the Congress—

Shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331
), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both."

Some, including McCarthy's colleague—Representative Ted Lieu of California, assessed that McCarthy's words violated this code.

Some called for the Department of Justice to intervene.

The committee's investigation is ongoing.