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Parler ‘welcomes’ FBI probe of company policies after House Oversight calls for review of Capitol riot role

Parler said it “welcomes” calls from the House Oversight Committee for a “robust examination” of its policies and said it has been “cooperating and will continue to” with law enforcement efforts in the investigation into the Capitol riot earlier this month.

Parler’s comments come after House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., requested that the FBI investigate the social media platform’s “role” as a “potential facilitator” of planning or inciting the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

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Parler Chief Operating Office Jeffrey Wernick on Thursday said, “Like other social-media platforms, we have been cooperating and will continue to cooperate with law-enforcement efforts to identify and prosecute those individuals responsible for organizing and carrying out the shameless Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.”

“Parler welcomes Rep. Maloney’s call to have the Federal Bureau of Investigation conduct a robust examination of our policies and actions,” Wernick said.

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 30: Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) delivers her opening statement at a hearing of the House Oversight and Reform Committee on September 30, 2020 in Washington, DC. The current and former executives of three major drug companies were to testify on the high cost in the U.S. of prescription drugs. (Photo by Alex Edelman-Pool/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 30: Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) delivers her opening statement at a hearing of the House Oversight and Reform Committee on September 30, 2020 in Washington, DC. The current and former executives of three major drug companies were to testify on the high cost in the U.S. of prescription drugs. (Photo by Alex Edelman-Pool/Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Wernick’s comments come after Maloney sent a letter to the FBI on Thursday requesting that the bureau also review whether Parler facilitated planning for the riot, and questioned whether it is “a potential conduit for foreign governments who may be financing civil unrest in the United States.”

Maloney pointed to a number of individuals who have been arrested and charged threatening violence against elected officials or for their role in participating directly in the Capitol riot, and said the Justice Department alleged that some conspirators posted threatening message on Parler.

“It is clear that Parler houses additional evidence critical to investigations of the attack on the Capitol,” Maloney wrote.

In her letter, Maloney went on to point to questions raised about “Parler’s financing and its ties to Russia.”

The intelligence community has warned, repeatedly, that Russia, as well as other adversaries, have used social media and other measures “to sow discord in the United States and interfere with our democracy.”

“The company was founded by John Matze shortly after he traveled to Russia with his wife, who is Russian and whose family reportedly has ties to the Russian government,” Maloney wrote, adding that “concerns about the company’s connections to Russia have grown” since the company “re-emerged on a Russian hosting service, DDos-Guard, after being denied services by Amazon Web Services.”

Maloney said DDos-Guard “has ties to the Russian government and hosts the websites of other far-right extremist groups, as well as the terrorist group Hamas.”

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“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.

She added that her committee would conduct its own investigation of the matters, and requested a meeting with FBI officials on the status and scope of its review “consistent with protecting the integrity of law enforcement efforts on this front.” 

Parler was removed from Google Play and the Apple App Store following the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Soon after, Amazon Web Services also disconnected Parler from its servers.

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