During a Tuesday Senate hearing about the rioting at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) — whose own advocacy on behalf of the lie that the 2020 election outcome was dubious helped spark the rioting — posed a line of questioning that former FBI special agent Clint Watts characterized as “straight disinformation.” In short, Hawley pressured Wray over federal authorities’ usage of cellphone data in their investigation of the Capitol rioting, but as Watts put it, “all investigations involve the pursuit of records, to include banking and communications records.” Hawley was punitively spreading baseless distrust in federal authorities.
As Watts put it, referring to Hawley and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah):
‘Hawley and Lee’s questions are deeply misleading, and they could just go to the court to get these answers about what warrants, subpoenas have been approved. And yes, they do need to wait until the investigation is over. Stupid insinuation. Senator Hawley – all investigations involve the pursuit of records, to include banking and communications records, this is straight disinformation strategy, and yet these same legislators will be whining when FBI doesn’t preemptively stop a terrorist attack or crime.’
Senator Hawley – all investigations involve the pursuit of records, to include banking and communications records, this is straight disinformation strategy, and yet these same legislators will be whining when FBI doesn't preemptively stop a terrorist attack or crime
— Clint Watts (@selectedwisdom) March 2, 2021
Of course, Republicans like Hawley have an easily distinguishable political motivation for sowing distrust in authorities — supporters of their own side are subjects of the investigation into the Capitol rioting, because Trump supporters — not “Antifa” or any other left-wing group — were responsible for the violence. Trump supporters, not anyone else, stormed the Capitol and murderously hunted members of the government like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and then-Vice President Mike Pence.
Speaking with Hawley during the Tuesday hearing, Wray answered with the following:
‘When it comes to geo-location data specifically — again, not in a specific instance, but just even the use of geo-location data — I would not be surprised to learn but I do not know for a fact that we were using geo-location data under any situation with connection with the investigation of the 6th. But again, we do use geo-location under specific authorities in specific instances — because this is such a sprawling investigation, that would not surprise me. When it comes to meta-data… I feel confident that we are using various legal authorities to look at meta-data under a variety of a situations.’
Check out his comments below:
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) asks FBI Director Christopher Wray about the FBI's collection of cellphone metadata during the Capitol insurrection.
Wray says: "I feel confident that we are using various legal authorities to look at metadata," but says he can't speak to specifics. pic.twitter.com/af56EsQQXm
— The Recount (@therecount) March 2, 2021
Recently, The Intercept reported that authorities swept up communication data related to members of Congress themselves as part of their investigation into the Capitol rioting.