An Iowa mother and son, accused of involvement in last year’s riot at the United States Capitol, are asking a federal judge to overturn a congressional subpoena for their phone records.
Likening the subpoena to “a banner headline in the National Enquirer,” Deborah Sandoval of Des Moines and her son, Salvador Sandoval Jr. of Ankeny, are suing the US House Select Committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the United States Capitol in the federal administration. court seeking an injunction blocking the publication of their phone records.
Both were arrested 12 months ago. Both face charges of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and entering or staying in a restricted building without lawful permission. Deborah Sandoval also faces a charge of obstructing or disrupting the orderly conduct of government, and her son faces a charge of obstructing, obstructing or interfering with law enforcement.
The Sandovals pleaded innocent to the charges. Trial dates have not yet been set.
In a motion filed earlier this week in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, Salvador Sandoval Jr. seeks to block enforcement of what his attorney, William Kutmus of West Des Moines, calls “a summons to appear too broad” of the House Select Committee. Kutmus claims the subpoena was issued to telecommunications provider T-Mobile “without lawful authority in violation of the Constitution and laws of the United States.”
According to the lawsuit, the subpoena requires T-Mobile to provide the committee with information related to Deborah Sandoval’s T-Mobile account, which also includes her son’s cell phone as part of a family account. The subpoena would target “login records and records of session times and durations”, as well as all call, messaging and data connection records associated with the phones.
“The select committee is engaged in a fishing expedition, which is constitutionally prohibited from such activity by the separation of powers,” the lawsuit alleges. “The Select Committee’s zealousness and invasion of private matters pursuant to the subpoena is as bizarre as a banner headline in the National Enquirer.”
The committee has not yet responded to the petition.
“I was pepper sprayed in the face”
The riot organized by supporters of former President Donald Trump left five people dead, including that of a Capitol police officer. Trump was later impeached over an article accusing him of “inciting insurrection”, but was acquitted by the Senate, which failed to reach the necessary two-thirds majority. Seven Republican senators voted to convict the former president.
More than 500 people have been criminally charged in connection with the riot.
According to court records, an FBI investigator who is part of the bureau’s Joint Terrorism Task Force interviewed a longtime acquaintance of Deborah Sandoval who communicated with her regularly on social media. The investigator reviewed conversations between the two that took place just before January 6, 2021, during which Deborah Sandoval allegedly announced her intention to go to the Capitol, stating: “This is the story in the making – save America”. After the riot, Deborah Sandoval reportedly sent acquaintances pictures of herself outside the Capitol during the riots.
Deborah Sandoval also reportedly distributed a video taken from inside the United States Capitol’s “crypt” – a large circular room surrounded by neoclassical columns directly below the Capitol’s rotunda. According to an affidavit by the FBI investigator, the video shows dozens of individuals “draped in Trump flags and wearing Trump hats, helmets and gas masks.” Another video taken from CCTV, or closed-circuit television, allegedly shows Deborah Sandoval, holding her phone in her hand while walking around, appearing to film the activities of the rioters.
The FBI investigator also alleges that he obtained a copy of videos that Salvador Sandoval Jr. filmed of himself inside the Capitol, including one in which he allegedly stated, “We are at the Capitol of the State, or the United States Capitol”. In a second video clip, he was quoted as saying: “I got pepper sprayed in my face and mouth…I came out because I heard a break and there are still people inside.” The video then cuts to the exterior of the Capitol building where dozens of individuals draped in Trump flags are seen chanting “USA, USA, USA!”
According to the FBI investigator’s sworn statement, CCTV footage from inside the Capitol shows that young Sandoval not only entered the building “but also assaulted law enforcement officers.” ‘order… CCTV footage shows Salvador Sandoval Jr. pushing two different law enforcement officers who are clearly identified as Metropolitan Police officers via badges on their jackets and helmets. Salvador Sandoval Jr. also grabbed the shield of a third Metropolitan Police officer, pulled it towards him, but failed to free it from the officer’s grasp.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story stated that more than 200 people had been criminally charged in connection with the Capitol riot. To date, the number of people charged is more than 500.
Iowa Capital Dispatch is part of States Newsroom, a grant-supported network of news outlets and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Iowa Capital Dispatch maintains editorial independence. Contact Managing Editor Kathie Obradovich with any questions: [email protected] Follow Iowa Capital Dispatch on Facebook and Twitter.
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