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House Democrats Demand FBI Investigation into Parler’s Role as a ‘Facilitator’ in Assault on U.S. Capitol


The House Oversight Committee on Thursday demanded that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conduct a “robust examination” of the role that right-wing social media app Parler played in the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol.

In a three-page letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, whom President Joe Biden plans to keep in that leadership role, the Oversight Committee said the bureau should investigate the pro-Donald Trump platform “as a potential facilitator of planning and incitement related to the violence, as a repository of key evidence posted by users on its site, and as a potential conduit for foreign governments who may be financing civil unrest in the United States.”

Citing to a series of news reports and charging documents of accused riot participants, Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said there was ample evidence suggesting that the violence at the Capitol was planned on Parler in the days and weeks leading up to the attempted insurrection.

“Numerous Parler users have been arrested and charged with threatening violence against elected officials or for their role in participating directly in the January 6 attacks,” Maloney wrote. “It is clear that Parler houses additional evidence critical to investigations of the attack on the Capitol. One commentator has already used geolocation data associated with Parler to track 1,200 videos that were uploaded in Washington, D.C. on January 6.”

Maloney specifically cited to an FBI charging document for William McCall Calhoun Jr., a Georgia lawyer who allegedly posted several times on Parler about the Capitol insurrection.

“Headed to D.C. to give the GOP some back bone—to let them know this is their last chance to Stop The Steal—or they are going to have bigger problems than these coddled Antifa burning down their safe spaces. DC announced it is ‘banning guns’ when we storm the Capitol tomorrow,” he wrote. “Very illegal. Whether the police can enforce their gun laws depends on how many armed Patriots show up. Ironically, in the long list of firearms and weapons banned by the DC ordinance, tomahawks are not mentioned, meaning there is no prohibition against carrying a tomahawk as long as it is not used offensively! The tomahawk revolution—real 1776.”

The committee also requested that the bureau probe the company and its owners’ ties to the Russian government.

“Questions have also been raised about Parler’s financing and its ties to Russia, which the Intelligence Community has warned is continuing to use social media and other measures to sow discord in the United States and interfere with our democracy,” the letter stated. “The company was founded by John Matze shortly after he traveled in Russia with his wife, who is Russian and whose family reportedly has ties to the Russian government. Concerns about the company’s connections to Russia have grown since the company re-emerged on a Russian hosting service, DDos-Guard, after being denied services by Amazon Web Services (AWS). DDos-Guard has ties to the Russian government and hosts the websites of other far-right extremist groups, as well as the terrorist group Hamas.”

In the days following the Capitol riots, Amazon discontinued Parler’s access to its AWS servers, telling the app’s chief policy officer that volunteer moderators were unable to comply with its terms of service.

Maloney also asked that Wray set up a meeting between the committee and bureau officials to keep the panel updated on the bureau’s investigation.

Read below for the full letter to Wray:

Wray Parler Probe Letter by Law&Crime on Scribd

[image via YouTube]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.