Investigative journalist John Solomon, whose phone records House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff saw fit to include in his impeachment inquiry report, asks, “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
After Schiff obtained and released the telephone records of Solomon, President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, Devin Nunes and others, the Wall Street Journal wrote an editorial in which they decried “Schiff’s Surveillance State.” The editorial board wrote, “This is unprecedented and looks like an abuse of government surveillance authority for partisan gain.” News flash. It is an abuse of government surveillance authority for partisan gain.
Former CIA analyst Fred Fleitz joined Fox News‘ Laura Ingraham on Thursday night to discuss Schiff’s most recent and possibly dirtiest trick yet – his decision to obtain and release the telephone records of his political adversaries.
Ingraham outlined what she’d heard from her sources whom she described as “extremely, extremely” reliable. “What Schiff did and his committee, was he went to one of the cell phone companies, AT&T, yes… They had some numbers. They didn’t know whose numbers they were. They asked them tell us what these numbers have been engaged in. What calls these numbers have been making and placing. That’s how they found that information. They took that information. They went to the NSA. The NSA, aka “Deep State,” then gave them the information that it was Rudy and others .”
What I want to know is why did AT&T comply with this request? When the NSA asks, AT&T always says no. Because a powerful Democratic Congressman asked for this information? AT&T has a lot to answer for here.”
AT&T certainly knew one of those numbers was Nunes’ phone and knew they were providing this information to Congress. They should have gone to the Justice Department or the FBI or a court before they provided that information.
The whole idea that he had looked into who the President’s attorney was speaking to raises huge issues on attorney-client privilege. What was the right that Schiff had to do this. Because in a criminal proceeding, an attorney would have to have special permission from a court to do that and it looks like Schiff thinks he operates under other rules…It’s an abuse of office, an abuse of authority. It’s…
Ingraham interrupts, “It’s an abuse of power.”
It’s often been said that Democrats will do “whatever it takes” to win. As far as they’re concerned, the end justifies the means.
Is there a point at which the end doesn’t justify the means? The Democrats likely figure that they are in so deep by now, they can’t afford to quit. Their tactics have become brazen. Just how much farther can Schiff and Pelosi go with impunity?
Federal law bars phone carriers from handing over records without an individual’s agreement. The statute makes some exceptions, including for federal and state law-enforcement agencies.
But not for lawmakers. “There does not appear to be any basis to believe that a congressional committee is authorized to subpoena telephone records directly from a provider—as opposed to an individual,” former Attorney General Michael Mukasey tells me.
Mr. Mukasey notes that the legal problem is “compounded,” in that going after Mr. Giuliani “raises questions of work-product and attorney-client privilege.” Whatever his role in the Ukraine affair, Mr. Giuliani remains the president’s personal lawyer. Law enforcement must present a judge with powerful evidence to get permission to vitiate attorney-client privilege. Mr. Schiff ignored all that, and made himself privy to data that could expose the legal strategies of the man he is investigating.
Mr. Giuliani did have notice that Democrats wanted some of his phone records. The Intelligence Committee sent a subpoena on Sept. 30, and gave him until Oct. 15 to comply. Yet before Mr. Giuliani even had an opportunity to respond, Mr. Schiff separately moved to seize his records from a phone carrier, sending his subpoena to AT&T on Sept. 30 as well.
Of course, none of this matters to Schiff and Pelosi. So consumed with hatred for Donald Trump, there is no line these two won’t cross.
Schiff has become like Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-WI) whose severe obsession with ridding the government of communists in the late 1940s and early 1950s made him the symbol of the Red Scare. “His accusations were so intimidating that few people dared to speak out against him.” McCarthy became consumed by his need to route out communism. His actions became more and more ruthless and unhinged over the years.
By the time he began his assault on the US Army in 1954, his obsession had taken total control of him. The “Army-McCarthy hearings” were broadcast on national television. McCarthy’s unrestrained attacks against witnesses resulted in the famous exchange between he and Boston lawyer Joseph Welch, whom the Army had hired for their defense. After an unreasonable line of questioning about a young lawyer who worked for his law firm, “Welch responded with the immortal lines that ultimately ended McCarthy’s career: “Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness.” When McCarthy tried to continue his attack, Welch angrily interrupted, “Let us not assassinate this lad further, senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?””
Although it’s impossible to believe, one day this impeachment inquiry will be in our rear view mirrors and Trump/Russia collusion, just an unpleasant memory. However, unless Schiff and Pelosi are held accountable for flouting U.S. laws and the rules the government has lived by for 240 years, their behavior will have established a new set of norms. If the bar for impeaching a duly elected President remains set as low as House Democrats have set it, they have trivialized what should be a rare and gravely serious act. And impeachment for partisan reasons will happen more frequently.
Likewise, if politicians can subpoena the telephone records of their enemies at will to inflict political damage, and if a partisan government insider can conspire with like-minded insiders to produce a bogus whistleblower complaint that can trigger the impeachment of a sitting president, then what has in the past been mere disfunction in Washington will turn into mayhem. If long-established, sacred traditions and ethical behavior in government become optional, then tyranny will have supplanted liberty.