GOP senators grill FBI directors about using geolocation data to track Capitol rioters
Senators Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) and Mike Lee (R., Utah) on Tuesday briefed FBI Director Christopher Wray on the procedures law enforcement officers used to track down those involved in the siege of the U.S. Capitol January 6th participated. “I look forward to seeing those who committed unlawful, violent acts on January 6th be brought to justice,” Lee said during a judicial hearing in the Senate Tuesday. “I also believe that … in these circumstances, as in all other circumstances, we must ensure that the civil liberties of the American people are protected.” The Utah Republican said he had heard “a number of reports” from people who were in Washington DC on January 6th who never came near the Capitol but were “inexplicably” contacted by FBI agents who were contacted by knew of their presence in the district that day, “Perhaps without any explanation other than the use of geolocation data.” “Do you geolocate people through the FBI based on where they were on Jan. 6?” Lee asked Wray. “I think there may be cases where geolocation was an investigative tool, but I can’t speak to a specific situation,” Wray replied. “But what do you do it with?” Asked Lee. “What is your basis of authority? Do you use national safety letters? “Wray said,” In no case do I believe we are using national security letters to investigate the Capitol … “Lee cut him off and asked the FBI director if he had gone to the FISA court, to which Wray replied that he did I remotely believe that FISA is implicated in our investigation. “The Senator pressed Wray further, asking if the FBI is using warrants based on probable grounds.” A number of arrest warrants must have been executed Jan. 6, “Wray said.” All of our investigations in response to the Capitol [riot] was among the legal authorities that we have in consultation with the [Department of Justice] and the prosecutors. “Later, Hawley continued Lee’s geolocation data survey and asked Wray if his position was that he didn’t know” whether the office collected geolocation data and cell phone record metadata from cell phone towers. “” Don’t you know, or maybe you are saying that. ” it has or maybe it doesn’t? Tell me what you know about it, “Hawley said.” So if it is about geolocation data specifically – again, not in a particular case, just the use of geolocation data – I wouldn’t be surprised learned – but I’m not sure – that we use geolocation data in every situation related to the exploration of [January 6]”Wray said.” But again, we’re using geolocation data among various agencies and in specific cases. “The FBI, the Department of Justice and the local Washington, DC police force are investigating the origins and conduct of the January riot at the Capitol. The investigation has resulted in hundreds of arrests so far. Republicans have raised concerns that the methods used by law enforcement to track down rioters may violate personal freedom. Last month, Bank of America sparked an outcry after it announced that it would provide banking information to them In the days following the riot, Bank of America released data to the FBI on thousands of customers who traveled to Washington DC around January 6, Fox News reported .