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Republican National Committee sues Jan. 6 panel over Salesforce subpoena

The RNC argues the subpoena, which it called overly broad, could reveal personal information about its members and donors.
Image: Speaker Pelosi Holds Weekly Press Conference
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks to reporters in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center on Feb. 3.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images file

The Republican National Committee on Wednesday sued the House panel investigating last year's attack on the Capitol, arguing the congressional committee is seeking potentially confidential information about RNC members.

The lawsuit takes aim at a February subpoena to Salesforce, which the Jan. 6 committee said focuses on emails from the RNC in the weeks before the attack on the Capitol that say the 2020 election was stolen.

The RNC called the subpoena a “fishing expedition" that could expose its strategies and personal information of its members and donors. The suit names House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and members of the congressional committee as defendants.

“Nancy Pelosi and the Committee have weaponized Congress’ investigatory powers by issuing this staggeringly broad subpoena which tramples on core First Amendment rights of the RNC and millions of Americans,” RNC attorney Justin Riemer said in a statement.

Salesforce is a data and digital communications vendor for the RNC. The RNC said a subpoena could expose private information of party supporters and donors, including how people responded to and opened emails.

House committee spokesman Tim Mulvey responded Wednesday by saying the subpoena focuses on fundraising emails from former President Donald Trump’s campaign and the RNC that include false claims about election fraud.

"The Select Committee issued a subpoena to an email fundraising vendor in order to help investigators understand the impact of false, inflammatory messages in the weeks before January 6th, the flow of funds, and whether contributions were actually directed to the purpose indicated," Mulvey said in a statement. "This action has absolutely nothing to do with getting the private information of voters or donors."

The subpoena letter, dated Feb. 23, cites reporting that the emails were sent using a Salesforce-owned tool.

Salesforce did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

The committee is investigating the riot led by a pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6, 2021, as Congress was meeting to formally count the electoral votes affirming President Joe Biden’s election victory. The attack followed weeks of false claims about the election by Trump and his allies.

The committee argued in a court filing this month that Trump and others were part of a conspiracy to overturn the election results and may have committed a crime.

The Jan. 6 panel, which consists of seven Democrats and two Republicans, has subpoenaed dozens of people close to Trump or his associates.

The RNC has not been shy about its criticism of the committee and its two GOP members. Last month, the RNC voted to censure Reps. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., for their roles on the committee and their criticism of Trump.

The censure resolution described Cheney and Kinzinger as "participating in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse." RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel later described it as discourse "that had nothing to do with violence at the Capitol."

The RNC's lawsuit seeks to have a judge block the subpoena of Salesforce. The RNC argued that if the subpoena is not blocked, an order limiting its scope to only “unprivileged information” should be issued.