Lawyer Says He Intends to Give Alex Jones’s Texts to House Jan. 6 Panel
WASHINGTON — The lawyer for plaintiffs who are suing the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones said Thursday that he plans to turn over two years of text messages from Mr. Jones’s phone to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
The lawyer, Mark Bankston, who represents Sandy Hook parents suing Mr. Jones in defamation lawsuits for lies he had spread about the 2012 school shooting, said in court in Austin, Texas, that he planned to turn over the texts unless a judge instructed him not to do so.
“I certainly intend to do that, unless you tell me not to,” Mr. Bankston told the judge, Maya Guerra Gamble, who appeared unsympathetic to requests from Mr. Jones’s lawyers that Mr. Bankston return the materials to them.
When lawyers raised the possibility that the texts could be subpoenaed by the committee, the judge replied, “They’re going to now. They know about them.”
A person familiar with the House committee’s work said the panel had been in touch with the plaintiffs’ lawyers about obtaining materials from Mr. Jones’s phone.
The Sandy Hook School Massacre
Enduring grief. A brutal shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in 2012 was among the deadliest in the country’s history, and it has fundamentally changed its gun politics. Here’s what to know:
A devastating attack. On Dec. 14, 2012, a 20-year-old gunman killed his mother and then walked into the elementary school armed with semiautomatic pistols and a semiautomatic rifle. He killed 26 people there, 20 of them children, before killing himself.
The push for gun control. Then-President Barack Obama vowed to “use whatever power this office holds” to stop such massacres from happening again. Though legislative efforts to pass a ban on assault weapons and expand background checks failed, a new wave of activism focused on gun control gained traction following the shooting.
An important win. On Feb. 15, Remington, the maker of the AR-15-style rifle used in the attack, agreed in a settlement to pay $73 million to the victims’ families. The suit worked around a federal law shielding gun companies from litigation by arguing that Remington had irresponsibly marketed the weapon, violating state consumer law.
Alex Jones and misinformation. Conspiracy theories that the shooting was a hoax have been amplified by the far-right broadcaster Alex Jones, who has lost several defamation lawsuits filed by families of the victims. In three separate trials, juries will decide how much Mr. Jones must pay for the suffering he caused.
Mr. Bankston said in court that Mr. Jones’s lawyers mistakenly sent him text messages from Mr. Jones, as they attempted to defend him in court for broadcasting conspiracy theories that the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax and that the families were actors.
Mr. Bankston said they included texts with the political operative Roger J. Stone Jr. Mr. Bankston said he had heard from “various federal agencies and law enforcement” about the material.
“Things like Mr. Jones and his intimate messages with Roger Stone are not confidential. They are not trade secrets,” Mr. Bankston said.
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol has been pushing to obtain Mr. Jones’s texts for months, saying they could be relevant to understanding Mr. Jones’s role in helping organize the rally at the Ellipse near the White House before the riot. In November, the panel filed subpoenas to compel Mr. Jones’s testimony and communications related to Jan. 6, including his phone records.
The committee also issued a subpoena for the communications of Timothy D. Enlow, who was working as Mr. Jones’s bodyguard on Jan. 6.
In response, Mr. Jones and Mr. Enlow sued in an attempt to block the committee’s subpoenas. Mr. Jones eventually appeared before the panel in January and afterward said he invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination nearly 100 times.
“I just had a very intense experience being interrogated by the Jan. 6 committee lawyers,” he said at the time. “They were polite, but they were dogged.”
Even though Mr. Jones refused to share information with the committee, he said the investigators seemed to have found ways around his lack of cooperation. He said the committee had already obtained text messages from him.
“They have everything that’s already on my phones and things,” he said. “I saw my text messages” with political organizers tied to the Jan. 6 rally.
According to the Jan. 6 committee, Mr. Jones facilitated a donation from Julie Jenkins Fancelli, the heiress to the Publix Super Markets fortune, to provide what he described as “80 percent” of the funding for the Jan. 6 rally and indicated that White House officials told him that he was to lead a march to the Capitol, where Mr. Trump would speak.
Mr. Jones and Mr. Stone were among the group of Trump allies meeting in and around, or staying at, the Willard Intercontinental Hotel, which some Trump advisers treated as a war room for their efforts to get members of Congress to object to the Electoral College certification, which was taking place when the riot swamped the building.
Mr. Jones conducted an interview with Michael T. Flynn, who served briefly as national security adviser to Mr. Trump, from the Willard on Jan. 5 in which the men spread the false narrative of a stolen election.
Mr. Jones was then seen among the crowd of Mr. Trump’s supporters the next day, amplifying false claims but also at times urging the crowd to be peaceful. Among those who marched alongside him to the Capitol was Ali Alexander, a promoter of the “Stop the Steal” effort who has also been issued a subpoena.
“The White House told me three days before, ‘We’re going to have you lead the march,’” Mr. Jones said on his internet show the day after the riot. “Trump will tell people, ‘Go, and I’m going to meet you at the Capitol.’”