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House January 6 panel asks lawyer for Alex Jones’s accidentally leaked texts

The House January 6 committee has contacted the attorney for a family suing Alex Jones for defamation in an attempt to obtain the far-right conspiracy theorist’s text messages, which were inadvertently leaked to the plaintiffs.

In court in Texas on Thursday, Mark Bankston, the lawyer for the parents of Jesse Lewis, a six-year-old boy who was among 20 children and six adults killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting, which Jones falsely said was a hoax, said the January 6 panel had asked him for the messages.

Bankston did not say if the request from both the committee and federal law enforcement came in the form of a subpoena, as news outlets reported it would. He said he intends to cooperate with the request unless a court orders him otherwise.

The announcement came a day after Bankston revealed to Jones, while he was on the witness stand, that his legal team had “messed up” and provided “every text message” Jones had written in the past two years.

Those messages included texts that contradicted claims made under oath that Jones had nothing on his phone pertaining to the Sandy Hook shooting.

Bankston said he alerted Jones’s attorneys to the apparent error but they never took steps to keep the communications out of court by labeling them as privileged.

Like many of the millions who follow his conspiratorial Infowars show, Jones was a prominent supporter of the presidency of Donald Trump.

The January 6 committee is trying to understand what communications Trump’s team had with Jones and other far-right figures before Trump supporters including extremist groups attacked the US Capitol less than two years ago.

Jones’s attorney, Andino Reynal, requested a mistral on Thursday, over the purportedly accidental leak. The attorney argued that he feared the text-message leak was introduced in court simply to create more press coverage, the Associated Press first reported.

Before the judge, Maya Guerra Gamble of Travis county, denied the motion, Bankston said the January 6 committee had asked him for Jones’s texts and related records.

Jurors in the defamation case brought against Jones by Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis – the father and mother of Jesse Lewis – began deliberations late on Wednesday afternoon.

They resumed on Thursday, the ninth day of a trial which saw Jones apologize and admit that the 2012 shooting at the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, was “100% real”.

But he spent years claiming that the 20 children and six adults murdered at Sandy Hook were not killed and instead – along with their grieving loved ones – were “crisis actors” carrying out an elaborate ruse to force gun control reform.

Heslin and Lewis sued Jones for defamation and inflicting emotional stress, saying they suffered mental distress, death threats and harassment. They have demanded at least $150m, saying an apology would not be enough.

Jones lost on the merits of the case by default, because he failed to provide any documents in response to the lawsuit.

The jury is deciding how much he owes Lewis and Heslin in compensation. In a later phase, it will determine whether he should pay punitive damages.

Hugo Lowell contributed to this report

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