U.S. Representative Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) explained on Fox News Wednesday night how House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) obtained the phone records of President Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani. Nunes told host Tucker Carlson that as far as he knew, the action the Democrats took to spy on the president’s allies was unprecedented and that he was considering “legal remedies” to protect his civil rights. Democrats obtained the phone records as part of their impeachment inquiry and according to critics, in possible violation of basic civil liberties.
“When Democrats gained control, they had subpoena power,” Nunes, the ranking Republican on the Intel Committee, said. He explained that Schiff had informed the minority that he had subpoenaed some telephone numbers, but did not disclose who the numbers belonged to, and because everything was being done secretly in the congressional SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility), no one was allowed to talk about it.
When asked who was subpoenaed, Nunes explained that Democrats subpoenaed AT&T, which handed over the records without a fight.
“Why would AT&T give those up?” Carlson asked in horror.
“That’s a good question,” Nunes replied. “AT&T should have at least gone to court to try to see if what they were going to do was the right thing.”
“Could they do that with my phone records or your phone records?” Carlson wondered.
“It appears like they could,” Nunes replied. “If Adam Schiff wants to go out and subpoena . . . they’ve now set a precedent.” He explained that Schiff could try it again with any other number, “send it to AT&T, and AT&T is going to comply.”
According to Byron York at the Washington Examiner, Schiff subpoenaed Verizon in addition to AT&T for the information.
Sources involved in the matter have only minimal information of exactly what Schiff did, but they believe the chairman subpoenaed a total of five phone numbers—it is not clear who each number was associated with—from which the published information was taken.
It is also not clear how much phone record information Schiff received from AT&T and Verizon that was not included in the report.
Legal experts York talked to said that it appears that Schiff acted legally—but that the committee majority may have abused its power.
When asked if Schiff could subpoena emails, as well, Nunes noted that it hadn’t yet been tried, “but be careful what you wish for” because that could be next.
Horrified, Carlson asked, Nunes, the previous chairman of the committee, whether there was a limit to Schiff’s power.
“I am not aware of any previous time that we subpoenaed phone records on the House Intelligence Committee,” Nunes said. “Maybe before my time we did, but I find it very strange.”
The California Republican also pointed out that beyond the president’s lawyer, the Democrats also snatched the phone records of American journalist John Solomon, “who they hate.”
Solomon weighed in on the matter Wednesday on Twitter.
“Adam Schiff arbitrarily releases my phone records as a 1st Amendment protected reporter,” the journalist wrote. “State Department bureaucrats reportedly monitored my social media. A witness gratuitously drags a 13-year-old boy into impeachment. Whatever happened to civil liberties, privacy and decency?”
Adam Schiff arbitrarily releases my phone records as a 1st Amendment protected reporter. State Department bureaucrats reportedly monitored my social media. A witness gratuitously drags a 13-year-old boy into impeachment. Whatever happened to civil liberties, privacy and decency?
— John Solomon (@jsolomonReports) December 4, 2019
Giuliani said in a statement to the Examiner:
Schiff, Pelosi, Nadler have trashed the U.S. Constitution and are enabled by a pathetic fawning press. They have proceeded without respect for attorney-client privilege, including threats of contempt and imprisonment. They have violated every conceivable due process right….counsel, confrontation, cross-examination, compulsory process. They have conducted secret hearings leaking selectively and deceptively. This Pelosi Congress will be remembered for wholesale trashing of the U.S. Constitution to satisfy the politically-driven irrational hatred of a president who challenges their fantasies that they are intellectually and morally superior to the rest of us.
Nunes pointed out that Democrats made talking to Russians a crime, then they changed course this year and made talking to Ukrainians a crime and now, apparently talking to Rudy Giuliani is a crime.
“And now I’m in his report for supposedly doing something wrong. This is—wrong,” Nunes declared. “I’m going to look at whatever legal remedies I have because I actually have civil rights here too,” Nunes said.
Nunes also released a statement, Wednesday:
The Democrats’ impeachment charade is flailing, and desperate people do desperate things. So Schiff suddenly published phone records of myself, current and former Republican staff members, and a journalist whose reporting he doesn’t like. It’s a gross abuse of power for a congressman to go after his political opponents, staffers, and reporters in this way, but it’s characteristic of the way Schiff has run this entire show. He’s going to need a long rehabilitation period when this is over.