Capitol riots Carolyn Maloney FBI House Oversight Committee Intelwars Parler Parler shutdown Russia Social Media

Democratic House Oversight Committee chair asks FBI to investigate Parler for role in Capitol riot and ties to Russia

The top Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform has asked the FBI to investigate social media company Parler for its purported role in the Jan. 6 riot at the United States Capitol and alleged ties to Russia.

Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) on Thursday sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray requesting a “comprehensive investigation” of the “assault on the Capitol” and specifically the “role the social media site Parler played in the assault.”

“I am writing to request that as part of its comprehensive investigation of the January 6 assault on the Capitol, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conduct a robust examination of the role that the social media site Parler played in the assault, including as a potential facilitator of planning and incitement related to the violence, as a repository of key evidence posted by users on its site, and as a potential conduit for foreign governments who may be financing civil unrest in the United States,” Maloney wrote.

Following the events of Jan. 6, Parler became the focus of media reports alleging that the platform was used to coordinate the violent activity that took place. Amazon Web Services booted the website from its web hosting service, citing “a steady increase in violent content,” and Google and Apple removed the Parler app from their respective app stores.

The press statement from Maloney notes that some Parler users have been arrested on charges related to the Capitol riot. For example, Troy Anthony Smocks, 58, of Dallas, Texas, was charged for allegedly making violent threats against “RINOS, Dems, and Tech Execs” on his Parler account.

Additionally, Maloney wants the FBI to review Parler’s finances and alleged ties to Russia after the website partially re-launched, hiring DDoS-Guard — a Russian digital infrastructure company — to defend against denial of service attacks.

“Given these concerns, we ask that the FBI undertake a robust review of the role played by Parler in the January 6 attacks, including (1) as a potential facilitator of planning and incitement related to the attacks, (2) as a repository of key evidence posted by users on its site, and (3) as potential conduit for foreign governments who may be financing civil unrest in the United States,” Maloney wrote.

“In addition, as the Committee conducts its own investigation of these matters to inform its oversight and legislative efforts, I request a meeting with appropriate FBI officials on the status and scope of its review, consistent with protecting the integrity of law enforcement efforts on this front,” she continued.

Reports have indicated that violent rhetoric and threats against public officials were made on numerous social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter. So far there is no Democratic-led effort to have the FBI investigate those websites.

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Dem lawmakers demand Homeland Security release all nonviolent illegal immigrants into US in order to prevent spread of coronavirus

Two leading House Democrats are calling on the Department of Homeland Security to immediately release most illegal immigrants from detention.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) wrote acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and acting ICE Director Matthew Albence on Tuesday demanding the release of nonviolent immigrants in U.S. custody.

The lawmakers cited fears that coronavirus will rapidly spread inside overcrowded immigrant detention facilities.

“The Department must take swift action to decrease the detainee population to prevent further spread of this disease,” the lawmakers wrote.

“In light of recent reports of detainees and staff testing positive at multiple detention centers, the high risk of further outbreaks in the near future, and the lack of adequate medical staff and equipment, we call on you to immediately release non-violent detainees, prioritizing those who are at higher risk for complications from coronavirus,” they continued. “Releasing these non-violent detainees will prevent the unnecessary infection, sickness, and death of the men and women who work in these facilities and those who are detained.”

According to Maloney and Raskin, 19 immigrants detained at six detention centers across the U.S. have so far contracted COVID-19, along with seven facility staff members.

More than 35,000 immigrants are being detained across the United States at the end of March, Roll Call reported.

ICE has already released at least 160 immigrants from detention who were at risk of contracting COVID-19. And according to Roll Call, the agency has identified 600 others who are at higher risk for contracting the virus.

Still, immigrant releases will be evaluated on a case-by-case nature, the agency said.

“Due to the unprecedented nature of COVID-19, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is reviewing cases of individuals in detention who may be vulnerable to the virus,” an ICE spokesperson told Roll Call. “Utilizing CDC guidance along with the advice of medical professionals, ICE may place individuals in a number of alternatives to detention options.