WASHINGTON — The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol is considering hiring staffers who can analyze social media posts and investigate the role foreign adversaries played in sowing division among Americans about the results of the presidential elections. two people inquired about the committee’s decision-making.
The new channels of investigation come as the commission, which currently has about 40 staff members, continues to subpoena testimonies and documents.
Witnesses this week included William J. Walker, the former commander of the DC National Guard, who has said military leaders have delayed the response of the Guards to Jan. 6, and conservative activist Dustin Stockton, whose attorney said he a “treasury” of documents that would have senior Trump allies and lawmakers “trembling in their boots.”
Mr Stockton and his fiancée, Jennifer L. Lawrence, helped organize post-election rallies by making false claims about the outcome. But Mr Stockton has said he was concerned that a march to the Capitol on Jan. 6 while Congress confirmed the election would pose “potential danger” and that his urgent concerns were escalated to Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff. Up to date, according to the committee.
Political agent Roger J. Stone Jr., a close ally of former President Donald J. Trump, appeared before the committee on Friday for a statement. But he invoked his Fifth Amendment right to self-incrimination on each of the panel’s questions because, he said, he feared Democrats would fabricate perjury charges.
Understand the US Capitol Riots
On January 6, 2021, a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol.
“I have done my civic duty and I have responded as required by law,” Mr Stone said after the statement. He then criticized the investigation as “Witch Hunt 3.0” and accused the government of hiding potentially exculpatory video evidence about the Capitol attack.
mr. Stone has claimed he left town when rioters stormed the Capitol. “I didn’t march to the Capitol. I was not in the Capitol,” he said, adding that he believed the violence was “illegal and politically counterproductive.”
But mr. Stone promoted his attendance at the Jan. 5-6 rallies, asked for support to pay for security through the website stopthesteal.org, and used members of the Oath Keepers militia group as personal guards while he was in Washington. At least two of those members have been charged with involvement in the attack on the Capitol.
To help the public understand the attack, the commission is considering hiring several new employees to analyze the massive amount of information Trump supporters posted to sites like Twitter, Facebook, Parler and YouTube in the weeks before and after the attack. . These digital footprints can help conference investigators connect players and events, or uncover details that witnesses may not know or remember.
Federal prosecutors have relied on hundreds of thousands of pieces of digital evidence to identify and support the charges against more than 700 defendants arrested in nearly every state for their part in the attack.
The commission’s investigators also seek to understand whether foreign governments were able to exploit and deepen the social divisions created by Mr Trump’s refusal to admit his election loss. Foreign adversaries have long sought to harm America’s national security interests by exacerbating social unrest and polarization.
Key figures in the January 6 survey
The committee also discussed whether foreign opponents had other ties to the attack on Congress, according to a person briefed on that part of the investigation.
In mid-December, an “enemy list” of prominent people who did not support Trump’s election lies circulated, including on a website called Enemies of the People. The FBI investigated and attributed the list to an Iranian disinformation campaign that sought to take advantage of the “Stop the Steal” movement to sow division.
In November, the Justice Ministry indicted two Iranian hackers for trying to influence the 2020 election by sending threatening messages to several thousand voters. Many of the posts were designed to look like they were from the Proud Boys, the far-right group.
Although House Republicans have condemned the investigation as a political witch hunt, the committee this week found support from Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, the highest-ranking Republican in the chamber. McConnell, who led a filibuster in May blocking the creation of an independent committee to investigate the attack, said this week he believed the House committee was discovering valuable information.
“It was a horrible event,” said Mr. McConnell of the Capitol siege in a… tv interview. “I think what they want to know is something the public should know.”