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US judge dismisses Republican efforts to block release of Salesforce emails

Probe into Capitol attack must wait for appeal before data can be accessed

A US judge has dismissed efforts by the Republican National Committee (RNC) to block the release of emails created and managed on a Salesforce system as part of an investigation into the January 6, 2021 attacks on the Capitol building.

In a ruling released this week [PDF], District Judge Timothy Kelly rejected the RNC claim that the House Select Committee's efforts to access the emails could reveal its digital strategy and provide valuable competitive information.

"The Select Committee's demand is narrowly tailored to its interest," the ruling said. "As the Court has already explained, the Select Committee seeks reasonably relevant information from a narrow window during which the RNC sent emails promoting claims that the presidential election was fraudulent or stolen.

"And the material being demanded is not overbroad because even information about those email campaigns the RNC argues are irrelevant will provide helpful 'context' that will 'materially aid' the Select Committee's valid legislative purpose."

Unchallenged assertions of the Select Committee said that its investigation and public reporting suggest the RNC and Trump campaign used Salesforce's platform and tools to send emails between November 3, 2020, and January 6, 2021, asserting that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent or stolen while those claims also motivated "some who participated in the January 6 attack on the Capitol," the ruling said.

"Salesforce itself acknowledged that, because 'there remain[ed] a risk of politically incited violence across the country'," it had taken "action to prevent [the RNC's] use of [its] services in any way that could lead to violence."

The RNC sued the House panel on March 9 after Salesforce was subpoenaed. In March, it also began action against Salesforce seeking to prevent the release of emails and other communications relating to the investigation.

In the current ruling, Judge Kelly has given the RNC time to appeal and temporarily barred Salesforce from releasing any documents until May 5.

According to news sources, RNC chief counsel Matt Raymer confirmed that the RNC would appeal.

"While the RNC strongly disagrees with this ruling, our lawsuit compelled Nancy Pelosi's January 6 Committee to dramatically narrow the subpoena's scope. Nancy Pelosi's attempted seizure of her political opponents' campaign strategy cannot be allowed to stand, and we appreciate Judge Kelly continuing to temporarily block the subpoena," he said. ®

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