DC Circuit Blocks January 6 Committee Access to RNC Recordings

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A three-judge federal appeals court panel temporarily barred the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack from accessing records it requested from the mass email marketing provider used by the Republican National Committee and Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign.

A lower court had confirmed that a House committee could subpoena the records, which the panel said it needed before public hearings scheduled for June as part of its investigation into whether Trump’s campaign had stoked public opinion. violence while spreading false allegations of fraud after the 2020 election.

On Tuesday, however, a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit barred the records from being released to Congress while it considers an emergency appeal from the RNC.

“The purpose of this administrative injunction is to give the court sufficient opportunity to consider the urgent request for an injunction pending appeal and should in no way be construed as a decision on the merits of this request”, wrote Justices Gregory G. Katsas, Neomi Rao and Justin R. Walker, all of whom were appointed by Trump.

The House Select Committee has subpoenaed digital marketing firm Salesforce seeking evidence that some rioters were inspired to attack the Capitol by false and inflammatory allegations circulated in campaign fundraising emails RNC and Trump. After Jan. 6, Salesforce said in a statement that the company had “taken steps to prevent [RNC] using our services in a way that could lead to violence. »

U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly of Washington had dismissed RNC claims that the House committee lacked a legitimate purpose and was jeopardizing the First Amendment by interfering in Republican political messaging.

“It is hard to imagine a greater interest in Congress than preserving its own ability to perform the specific tasks assigned to it under the Constitution,” he wrote.

The select committee is due to hold its public hearings next month; an appeal usually takes longer than that to plead. Kelly gave the RNC time to appeal its decision but did not suspend its decision beyond that, saying the GOP committee “has failed to show that the balance of actions and public interest strongly lean in its favour”.

Spencer S. Hsu contributed to this report.

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