Broadcaster claims House panel ‘consider a small minority of Congressmen and Senators as well as Donald Trump to be domestic terrorists’
Alex Jones, the founder of the right-wing media group Infowars, has indicated that he will plead the fifth, and he called himself a “controversial American journalist” in a lawsuit against the House Select Committee investigating the Capitol riot on 6 January.
Mr Jones is trying to block subpoenas against him and AT&T for his phone records. In the lawsuit, he says he’s seeking a “declaratory judgment” saying that the House panel is “not a lawfully constituted committee” and that its “actions to date have been wholly without legal authority”.
The committee had asked Mr Jones to turn over all his communications with then-President Donald Trump between 19 December 2020 and 31 January 2021.
The Infowars host also claims that the committee violated the rules of the House by “issuing a deposition subpoena to Jones without Defendant [Chairman Bennie] Thompson first consulting with a duly appointed minority ranking member on the Select Committee”.
Mr Jones calls the insurrection a “well-known episode on January 6” and adds that an Infowars staffer was arrested during the riot. The associate, Owen Shroyer, is facing misdemeanour charges after breaching police lines at the Capitol. Mr Jones defends Mr Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, saying that his “questions” were “all fairly prompted by the first mass mail-in voting presidential election”.
The right-wing media figure also questions whether Wyoming Republican Representative Liz Cheney, who serves on the Democrat-led committee along with Illinois Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger, is still a member of the GOP.
“A question exists as to whether Defendant Cheney is still a member of the Republican Party,” the lawsuit states. “The Wyoming Republican Party has expelled her as a member, and Chairman Thompson’s act of appointing her to the position of Vice Chair confirms under House Rules that she is a member of the Democrat party because House Rule XI(2)(d) states that vice chairs are to be members of the majority party.”
The pro-Trump broadcaster and conspiracy theorist goes on to say that the committee members “consider themselves and most of the other members of Congress victims of domestic terrorism” and that “they also consider a small minority of Congressmen and Senators as well as Donald Trump to be domestic terrorists”.
Mr Jones says in the court document that he will use his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and that the committee didn’t accept his offer to provide “written responses” to questions.
He adds that the panel had asked him to appear on 10 January, is considering offering immunity to him to get him to testify, and that he won’t provide documents because his “journalistic activity” is protected under the first amendment.
“With respect to his deposition subpoena, Mr Jones has informed the Select Committee that he will assert his First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights to decline to produce the documents requested by the Select Committee, asserting that he engaged in constitutionally protected political and journalistic activity under the First Amendment, that the Fourth Amendment guarantees him a right of privacy in his papers, and that he is entitled to due process and the right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment,” the lawsuit states.
Other targets of the committee’s subpoenas have also sued the panel to prevent them from obtaining phone records and testimony. Several organisers of the rally that took place before the attack on the Capitol have jointly sued the committee.
“Stop the Steal” movement founder Ali Alexander has sued the panel, as has freelance photographer Amy Harris, who was working on a project about the Proud Boys.
While Mr Jones led a march with hundreds of supporters to the Capitol on 6 January, he hasn’t been accused of any crimes on that day.
He adds that he rejected to speak to the committee “informally” because the panel “has not treated others that it has offered the same deal to fairly and with respect”.
“Jones has good and substantial reason to fear that the Select Committee may cite him for contempt of Congress if he refuses to answer its questions on grounds of constitutional privilege,” the legal filing states.