FBI Gains Access To Congressional Phone Records In Capitol Attack Investigation
The FBI has reportedly gained a new dataset for their investigation of the Capitol insurrection attempt last month: the phone records of members of Congress. Some of these members have been accused, by their colleagues, of having some involvement or foreknowledge of the attack.
While a handful of right-wing politicians have tried to suggest House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was somehow responsible, or pin on her the security failures of the day, there have been a lot more concerns raised about certain Republican members. Representative Madison Cawthorne (R-NC), for instance, was reported to have been armed during the attack, and someone reportedly led tour groups through the Capitol before the attack.
Now, according to Occupy Democrats, the FBI has collected information on the cell phones of members of Congress, and is comparing these to lists of cell phones that pinged off towers in the area during the time of the riot, and the time leading up to it.
The simplest possible use for this, obviously, is to exclude these numbers from the long list of phones whose owners will have to be questioned about their presence at the Capitol at the time. However, the FBI is reportedly also mapping connections between the phones at the Capitol that day — so if anyone was in inappropriate contact with rioters, the information should come up.
The Washington Post reported last month that even though most rioters were freely allowed to leave, phone records would make them easy to track.
“The Capitol…has a vast cellular and wireless data infrastructure of its own to make communications efficient in a building made largely of stone…Such infrastructure…can turn any connected phone into its own tracking device.
Phone records make determining the owners of these devices trivially easy. Congressional investigators and federal prosecutors can also identify devices and users who may have connected wittingly or automatically to congressional guest WiFi networks — unless rioters made a point of deactivating their devices or leaving them behind during the takeover.”
Sure enough, in the weeks since, investigators have used phone records, videos posted to social media, and other data to question a length list of suspects, and charge those deemed to be involved. Insider reported that, as of the middle of last week, over 250 had been charged.
If there are links between any of these individuals’ phones and those of any Senators or Representatives, it’ll likely come up in the investigation.