I wrote this past December about House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff’s acquisition of telephone records used in the committee’s “impeachment inquiry report” here (part 1), here (part 2), here (part 3), and here (part 4). In those posts I tried to infer the underlying facts from the “impeachment inquiry report.” We were nevertheless left hanging. How did Schiff do that?
Kim Strassel follows up this week in her Wall Street Journal column “Adam Schiff’s Surveillance State.” She reports on “a pointed letter from Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr, which landed Thursday at the House Intelligence Committee.” She writes:
Chairman Schiff spent months conducting secret impeachment hearings. His ensuing report revealed that he’d also set up his own surveillance state. Mr. Schiff issued secret subpoenas to phone carriers, to obtain and publish the call records of political rivals. Targets included Rudy Giuliani and another attorney of the president, the ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee (Rep. Devin Nunes) and a journalist (John Solomon).
Impeachment is over, but Mr. Carr hasn’t forgotten this abuse of power, and his letter, which I obtained, calls for answers and reform. The FCC takes call privacy seriously, only recently having proposed some $200 million in fines on phone carriers for failing to protect customer data. Mr. Carr’s message to Mr. Schiff is that Congress doesn’t get a pass. It is not automatically entitled to “a secret and partisan process that deprives Americans of their legal right to maintain the privacy of this sensitive information.”
Mr. Carr doesn’t dispute that Congress may, “in at least some circumstances,” have the legal authority to obtain call records under the Communications Act. The offense, he writes, was denying his targets the right to fight the subpoenas: “Courts long ago established a process for Americans to seek judicial review before Congress obtains and then publishes documents in response to a congressional subpoena.”
Carr calls out the devious and abusive aspects of Schiff’s subpoenas: “He issued them secretly. He didn’t notify his targets, and Republican committee members were barred from telling the public what they knew about the subpoenas. Worse, he deceived one of his targets. He sent a subpoena for call records to Mr. Giuliani on Sept. 30 and suggested Mr. Giuliani had two weeks to work with the committee, even as Mr. Schiff was already secretly demanding Giuliani call records from a phone carrier.”
What does Schiff have up his sleeve? She adds that Carr asks: “Is Mr. Schiff continuing to issue secret subpoenas? And what else is he sitting on? The impeachment report indicates the committee obtained ‘nearly 4,000 pages of confidential call records,’ nowhere near what Mr. Schiff published. Who else’s life is getting ransacked at this moment?”
Kim’s column is posted with the excellent video below. In the video, Kim cuts to the chase: “This was an incredible abuse…”
I found a copy of Carr’s letter on Carr’s Twitter feed (below).
Chairman Schiff has been collecting Americans’ private call records through a secret & partisan process.
He even published some of them in the Impeachment Report.
These sensitive records are protected by federal law.
His conduct raises serious concerns & I’ve asked for answers https://t.co/WrdGf1n1P2
— Brendan Carr (@BrendanCarrFCC) March 12, 2020
3. As a country, are we comfortable with one political party in Congress having the unilateral & unchecked power to secretly obtain & publicize the confidential call records of any private citizen, journalist, or government official?
Chairman Schiff has been doing exactly that.
— Brendan Carr (@BrendanCarrFCC) March 13, 2020