Attorneys for House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, both California Democrats, argued that Congress can secretly record the phone calls of private citizens, according to a revealing court transcript released by Judicial Watch.
The government transparency and accountability watchdog filed suit to obtain information about Schiff’s decision to subpoena political enemies during hearings for President Donald Trump’s first impeachment in late 2019.
Schiff had a hand in every aspect of the process, from advising the so-called whistleblower whose complaint triggered the proceedings, to overseeing the secretive House tribunals, to playing the role of lead impeachment manager in the unsuccessful Senate trial.
The transcript includes a March 24 oral argument before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit challenging a lower court ruling upholding the secrecy of the surreptitiously-issued congressional subpoenas.
The records led to Schiff’s publication of phone numbers and metadata concerning the conversations of several Trump-allied public officials and private citizens who were not under investigation. Among them:
- Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., who was Schiff’s GOP counterpart as ranking minority member of the Intel Committee
- conservative journalist John Solomon, who was deeply involved in exposing the Biden family’s Burisma deals
- Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani, Jay Sekulow and Victoria Toensing
“This case is about shedding light on unprecedented and illegitimate congressional subpoenas,” argued Judicial Watch senior attorney James Peterson.
“The extraordinary subpoenas at issue represent a supposedly unlimited government surveillance power and an unlimited ability by Congress to, at their whim, to invade the privacy of any American,” he added.
In abusing his subpoena powers during the politically-charged witch hunt, Schiff ignored even the most fundamental of due-process.
“He did not provide notice to these individuals in advance that their phone records were being sought,” Peterson’s transcript noted.
“He did not subpoena the phone records directly from the citizens,” Peterson continued. “Instead, he subpoenaed the phone companies for the records, preventing any opportunity for the private citizens to seek court review, as would happen in any other case in where the government is seeking this kind of information about any citizen.”
Schiff claimed, at the time, that he was exposing collusion among then-President Trump’s defenders. However, since not even the House’s articles of impeachment accused Trump of any violations of the law during his first impeachment hearing, there would appear to be no underlying misconduct supporting the claim.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton concluded, “The courts should reject Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi’s corrupt cover-up of the unconstitutional subpoenas that abused the civil rights of then-President Trump, Rudy Giuliani, journalists and other American citizens.”