House oversight chair asks FBI to investigate Parler

Parler is facing questions about its role in the violence on Jan. 6, and its ties to Russia.

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Parler may still be (mostly) offline, but the company may face new investigations into its role in the deadly riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, the chair of the House Oversight Committee, sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray asking for an official investigation into Parler. 

“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 writes.

The letter cites news reports that Parler users were making violent threats in the days leading up to January 6. It also raises questions about “Parler’s financing and its ties to Russia,” noting that “posters on Parler have reportedly been traced back to Russian disinformation campaigns,” and that CEO John Matze may have personal ties to Russia.

The New York Democrat told the Washington Post that the Oversight Committee may also launch “a formal committee investigation into sites that may encourage violence, including Parler.” It’s not the first time a member of Congress has raised questions about Parler’s role in the deadly violence in Washington D.C. Virginia Senator Mark Warner previously sent a letter to Parler, along with several other tech companies, asking them to preserve evidence tied to the attack. 

But a formal investigation from Congress, and a potential FBI inquiry, would be even more significant. Parler is already facing a shaky future after Amazon Web Services cut off its servers and Apple and Google kicked the app out of their app stores. Parler has sued Amazon over its actions. On Monday, a version of Parler’s website came back online, though it hasn’t restored its former functionality. Matze has said he intends to get Parler up and running by the end of January.

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