Pro-Trump broadcaster and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is suing the Jan. 6 select committee to block the panel from obtaining his phone records and compelling his testimony at a deposition next month.
In the suit, Jones says he intends to assert his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination — confirming a statement he made on his show — and that the committee rejected his offer to provide “written responses” to their questions.
The panel, he says, has asked him to appear for a deposition on Jan. 10 and has suggested it is considering offering immunity to compel his testimony. He also says he doesn’t intend to produce documents, claiming his “journalistic activity” is protected under the First Amendment.
“With respect to his deposition subpoena, 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,” he argues.
The panel is seeking Jones’ phone records from his carrier, AT&T.
Jones’ lawsuit is the latest in a flood of litigation by targets of the Jan. 6 committee seeking to prevent them from enforcing its subpoenas and obtaining phone records from private carriers. Several organizers of the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the violent attack at the Capitol have jointly sued the panel. John Eastman, the attorney who helped Trump develop plans to pressure Mike Pence to overturn the results of last year's presidential election, has sued to protect his phone records, as well. Ali Alexander, the founder of the “Stop the Steal” movement, has sued, as has Amy Harris, a freelance photographer who was working on a project about the Proud Boys.
On Monday afternoon, Cleta Mitchell, a prominent conservative attorney who joined Trump's early January call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, sued to quash a subpoena from the Jan. 6 select committee for her private phone records, calling it an "unwarranted intrusion" on her privacy and privileged communications.
Notably, Mitchell indicated she doesn't dispute the "legitimacy" of the Jan. 6 committee probe — which she pointed out was recently supported by a federal appeals court panel — but she said the subpoena itself was too broad. Mitchell said she spent months performing legal work on Trump's behalf, with a focus on Georgia, which led to a Dec. 4 lawsuit that was ultimately dismissed.
Jones led hundreds of supporters on a march to the Capitol on Jan. 6. He’s not accused of any crimes related to the attack on the Capitol. One of his close associates, however, Owen Shroyer, who accompanied Jones for most of the day, is facing misdemeanor charges for breaching police lines at the Capitol.
Shroyer was in court via video Monday afternoon seeking to dismiss the case against him. In an hour-long hearing, his attorney made the case to U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly that the charges against Shroyer amount to “vindictive” prosecution of Shroyer for his political views. But Kelly seemed skeptical of that position, noting that prosecutors have charged hundreds of people in connection with the events at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
"They've been charging a heck of a lot of people," Kelly said. While more than 700 people have been charged, the vast majority of charges have been brought against those accused of entering the Capitol or battling with police. Very few, besides Shroyer, are charged only with minor offenses on Capitol grounds.
Shroyer is facing a series of misdemeanor charges that he crossed police lines, refused directions to leave the restricted grounds and exacerbated the situation by chanting “1776” near the top of the steps on the Capitol’s east side.
Shroyer had previously entered a “deferred prosecution agreement” with the government for his disruption of impeachment proceedings in 2019. At the time, he stood up and shouted at the impeachment investigators during a public hearing. The agreement prohibited Shroyer from future disruptive acts on Capitol grounds.
Shroyer has claimed he was with Jones during the attack and circled the Capitol looking for places Jones could use to calm the crowd and urge participants to leave. Shroyer's attorney, Norman Pattis, said video supports that claim, showing a security aide to Jones asking police officers if Jones could climb up on a pedestal to address the crowd. At one point, according to lawyers involved in the case, an officer replied: "If you can get him up there, go for it.“
"We view that as condonation," Pattis said. "I’m not sure that the magistrate who authorized the arrest warrant would have signed the warrant had that comment been highlighted."
However, prosecutors contend that an officer's remark amid an unfolding crisis didn't amount to permission to cross the police lines. "Even if this were permission, it’s not permission for Owen Shroyer," Assistant U.S. Attorney Troy Edwards Jr. said.
Edwards insisted that prosecutors were not targeting Shroyer over his speech. "These charges target his conduct," the prosecutor said.
But Pattis said that claim was absurd. "I found that shocking. There's no evidence that he did anything other than speak," the defense attorney said. "I don't think this court can ignore the speech-drenched character of this ... It is our contention that Mr. Shroyer was doing nothing other than petitioning for redress of grievances."
Kelly did not rule immediately on the defense's motions to toss out the charges. He suggested at the outset that some of Pattis' claims might be useful defenses at trial, but didn't seem to be sufficient to have a judge throw out the case. However, shortly before the hearing recessed, Kelly added: "The parties have given me little more to chew on than I had thought."
Jones' new lawsuit indicates that the committee offered him a chance to speak “informally” about a limited set of topics but he refused, contending that 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,” his suit argues.