GOP House Leader McCarthy Threatens Tech Firms over Jan. 6 Riots
Despite rancor within the Republican Party and controversy surrounding his leadership, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy threatened technology companies helping the government with investigations into the January 6 riots.
McCarthy made the threat on Twitter and said a future Republican majority “will not forget” if these technology companies comply with the House select committee investigating the riots.
So far, over 600 participants in the storming of the Capitol building have been charged with crimes. The Department of Justice and other investigators have found and arrested rioters using phone and app data.
In the House Minority Leader’s tweet, he accused Democrats of strong-arming private companies into turning over private data. The House Committee has asked 35 companies to preserve data records related to the January 6 events.
The committee is seeking records related to the Trump family, specifically President Trump’s children, Ivanka, Donald Jr., and Eric.
McCarthy has attempted to persuade lawmakers, companies, and citizens not to work with the House committee. Several Republican lawmakers have also asked McCarthy to kick several fellow Republicans who worked with the committee out of a Republican conference.
Division and Controversy
While McCarthy has asked fellow Republicans to distance themselves from the investigation into the riots, several Republican lawmakers have not followed orders. Republican Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger are both serving on the committee.
Several fellow Republican representatives called Cheney and Kinzinger “spies” for the Democratic Party in a letter.
While some Republicans have kicked up a storm about their participation, McCarthy has thus far declined to punish the two representatives. The House Minority Leader previously pulled all his six choices to serve on the committee.
Instead, McCarthy has turned his ire to technology companies who McCarthy alleged Americans would find themselves “in the crosshairs of a surveillance state run by Democrat politicians.”
“To me, that’s pretty straight-up intimidation and obstruction. It’s the congressional equivalent of ‘snitches get stitches.’ That’s kind of what he’s telling them,” Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell told ABC News.
McCarthy is no stranger to controversy; an alleged affair with a fellow Congresswoman derailed his first bid to lead the Republicans in the House.
Regarding the January 6 riots, McCarthy has also come under fire from both Democrats and Republicans. Before the riots, McCarthy had questioned the results of the 2020 election, a conspiracy theory many attributed to stoking the deadly riots. After the riots, McCarthy put some blame on President Trump but later backtracked his statements.
Previously, his inconsistency on the January 6 riots caused confusion and frustration amongst Republican lawmakers. As a result, McCarthy was both criticized for blaming Trump and pulling back from those accusations.
But despite the rancor within his party and the many controversies swirling around him and the Republican Party, McCarthy has been emboldened to take on Big Tech, a recent target of Republican ire.
Kevin McCarthy, Big Tech and the Surveillance State
McCarthy’s accusations that the United States is a surveillance state ring hollow due to the Republican Party’s contribution to the growing security state.
Early in Trump’s first years in office, Republicans complained about the wide net American surveillance casts. Republicans complained when communications between Trump aides and confidantes were picked up by American intelligence.
However, the same Republican lawmakers have played a vital role in creating the American surveillance state. After the September 11th attacks, Republican President George W. Bush oversaw a broad expansion of American intelligence operations, including the Patriot Act.
Nonetheless, Republicans have positioned themselves as the anti-Big Tech party. Censorship by big tech companies and de-platforming has been a fixture of Fox News host talking points.
What often goes unsaid and underreported is who the true victims of the US’s bloated surveillance apparatus are.
In the wake of 9/11, the FBI and other organizations used their increased powers to entrap Muslims and bring trumped-up terrorism charges to unwitting citizens.
An FBI whistleblower wrote to The Intercept, “I have serious and legitimate concerns about the F.B.I.’s tactics in the Muslim community as it pertains to entrapment, baseless investigations, and intimidation of prospective informants.”
Digital activists are also worried about the repercussions of expanded state surveillance in the wake of the January 6 riots. However, these real concerns are not echoed by House Minority Leader McCarthy, who focused on Democrat’s involvement rather than surveillance.
The most recent surveillance bill to enrage privacy rights advocates just passed this week in Australia. The legislation is in response to growing cybercrime concerns, but activists and legal scholars fear it can be used against citizens. It gives investigators the power to take over the accounts of suspected criminals.