Government watchdog group Judicial Watch has been trying to get information through FOIA on how and why the House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) for his hands on the call records that he listed in the House Intel Committee impeachment report.
On Friday, they filed a lawsuit against Schiff and the Committee for failing to respond to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests in time in accordance with the law.
The request references the phone records mentioned on page 153 in the impeachment report and include the records of President Donald Trump’s personal attorneys, Rudy Giuliani and Jay Sekulow, House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-CA) and one of his staff members, as well as investigative journalist John Solomon and others. The report only references the meta data of the calls, that is, what number made the call and what number received it, plus how long the call was. It does not reference the content of the call.
But Schiff refused to provide further information on what that information was included, or why or how that information was acquired. Other reports indicated that the information had been obtained by subpoenaing the information of five phone numbers from ATT and Verizon directly, including the information for Rudy Giuliani and apparently Lev Parnas. It is not clear who the other numbers were that were subpoenaed are.
“The records are of critical public importance as the subpoenas were issued without any lawful basis and violated the rights of numerous private citizens,” the group said in their lawsuit. “…Defendants’ refusal or failure to disclose the records does not serve any legitimate public interest.”
When the watchdog group filed their FOIA request they asked for:
1. All subpoenas issued by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on or about September 30, 2019 to any telecommunications provider including, but not limited to AT&T, Inc., for records of telephone calls of any individuals;
2. All responses received to the above-referenced subpoenas.
Tom Fitton brought up a great point using the logic Schiff has used in the past: If Schiff has nothing to hide, why isn’t he releasing this information? Is he trying to obstruct the law?
“Adam Schiff abused his power to secretly subpoena and then publish the private phone records, in potential violation of law, of innocent Americans. What else is Mr. Schiff hiding?” Fitton asked in a statement. “Schiff and his Committee ran roughshod over the rule of law in pursuit of the abusive impeachment of President Trump. This lawsuit serves as a reminder that Congressman Schiff and Congress are not above the law.”
Judicial Watch is not the only one who wants to see more information relating to these secret Committee-issued subpoenas. Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) actually sent a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham asking him to subpoena various call records for Chairman Adam Schiff, former Vice President Joe Biden, Hunter Biden and Mark Zaid, the lawyer for the Ukrainian whistleblower.
Judge Michael Mukasey has also raised questions about the legality of how the records were obtained, as we previously reported.
Mukasey blasted that, saying that Congress doesn’t actually have the power under the law to subpoena records directly from the phone company. The judge said you can only get them if you’re law enforcement or if the company is trying to save someone’s life. Neither of which would give permission to Congress or Adam Schiff to get them. Mukasey suggested that if Schiff had done that he may have committed a crime. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) has already said that he intends to sue over the records and the clear attempt by Schiff to try to smear the folks whose records were included.
Mukasey said it was very problematic if Congress is able to go to the provider and just get people’s records and that we deserve answers from Schiff.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the ranking member on the House Intel Committee whose records were included and who is a frequent critic of Schiff, said that the records that Schiff produced didn’t match his own phone records and that he intended to sue.