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Jan. 6 panel fumes over ‘unauthorized’ interview by former adviser

Jan. 6 select committee leaders are furious that a onetime adviser to the panel, former Rep. Denver Riggleman, divulged private details about their work in what they say was an “unauthorized” CNN interview.

In an internal email obtained by POLITICO that was sent Wednesday night, shortly after the interview aired, staff director David Buckley told colleagues that Riggleman’s appearance was “in direct contravention to his employment agreement.”

“I want you to know that I am deeply disappointed in his decision to discuss the Select Committee’s work on television,” Buckley said in the email to the panel’s staff.

The conflict centers on a rare breach for a committee that has, by most accounts, operated with little internal drama and dissension. It’s also an unwelcome distraction for the panel on the eve of its long-awaited slate of public hearings, scheduled to begin next week.

In a phone call Friday, Riggleman sharply disagreed with Buckley’s assessment, saying it was “patently false,” but that he wanted to “continue to help the committee in any way possible.”

The former GOP congressman from Virginia said he was no longer employed by the panel and not bound by any agreement restricting his media appearances. A spokesman for the select panel declined to comment on the internal email and Riggleman’s appearances on TV.

Riggleman, who held the title “senior technical advisor” for the select committee, announced his departure at the end of April, saying he would move on to his “next mission to help Ukraine” at an unspecified nonprofit.

In media interviews, he has described leading an effort to dissect a batch of text messages that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows provided to the committee and to link the phone numbers to names. Those text messages were obtained last month by CNN, which has published batches of them periodically, though the station has not released the full cache.

In his TV appearance — as well as a subsequent CNN appearance Friday morning — Riggleman verified the validity of the text messages and described his horror at their contents. He also discussed the committee’s work to link various participants in former President Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election, describing it as a sophisticated data-driven operation that could take years to fully analyze, despite the panel’s compressed time frame.

Buckley cited those details in his Wednesday email to staff.

“His specific discussion about the content of subpoenaed records, our contracts, contractors and methodologies, and your hard work is unnerving,” he wrote.

And Buckley reminded staff that their employment agreements include a pledge “to not discuss our work outside of the committee without my express permission.”

“That includes any conversation with Denver,” he wrote. “Your commitment extends beyond your employment by the House as outlined in our handbook.”

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