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As House January 6 committee winds down, it is abandoning efforts to subpoena phone records

By Katelyn Polantz and Annie Grayer, CNN

The House select committee investigating the Capitol riot is dropping several of its pursuits for January 6-related phone records, according to court filings this week, as the panel winds down before it expires at the end of this year.

The committee sent out dozens of subpoenas seeking call logs, including to major phone companies, as part of its investigation into Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election result. But several Trump allies sued, contesting the committee’s authority, and Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile agreed not to turn over any data to the House while those lawsuits were litigated in court. Few of the cases have been resolved.

That means the House select committee will not be able to incorporate in its final report without some of the information it long sought about the communications of top witnesses around Donald Trump and the White House in late 2020 and January 2021. The panel plans to release the report next week.

This week, the committee withdrew its phone-records subpoenas related to Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka, White House aide Stephen Miller, elections attorney Cleta Mitchell, conservative political activist Roger Stone, some January 6 Capitol riot defendants and Amy Harris, a photojournalist who spent time with top members of the Proud Boys around January 6, 2021, according to filings in seven House subpoena challenges that were pending in the DC District Court.

“On December 12, 2022, Plaintiffs were informed by counsel for the Select Committee that the Select Committee will be withdrawing the subject subpoena issued by the Committee,” one court filing, from lawyers representing members of the Oath Keepers extremist group, wrote in one recent request to drop a lawsuit.

Some of the subpoenas were issued a year ago.

The committee declined to comment.

While these witnesses and some others successfully blocked the committee from obtaining their phone records, the panel was able to access unprecedented amounts of information in their investigation, including through other phone records subpoenas, other document requests and witness interviews. Some of that information was on display in a series of public hearings over the summer.

Even after the public hearings, the committee tried to collect more data as it wrapped up its work this year. For example, the committee won access to Arizona GOP Chairwoman Kelli Ward’s phone data after she lost a challenge in court and the Supreme Court declined to get involved.

But they never got all of the phone records they sought from former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who over the past year became one of the committee’s top pursuits.

After turning over some 2,000 text messages to the committee, Meadows lost a court case challenging committee subpoenas for his phone records and for his testimony. Yet Meadows is still trying to challenge those subpoenas in court, leaving the House with little ability to force him to testify before the end of the Congress.

Another subpoena target, Stop the Steal organizer Ali Alexander, said in a statement the committee had informed his lawyer it is withdrawing a subpoena for his phone records. He has been challenging the subpoena to Verizon for his phone logs since last December. Alexander noted that he did testify for hours before the committee and later before a federal grand jury investigating January 6 and efforts to overturn the election.

“I did nothing wrong except to exercise my First Amendment rights to protest the fraud that occurred in the 2020 election,” Alexander said in the statement.

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