Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey has questioned the legality of Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) recent acquisition of phone records for five individuals, one of whom is House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.).
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Schiff is already facing criticism of his actions as Democratic members of Congress pursue the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
But, in what’s being called a “stunning abuse of congressional power,” Schiff divulged the phone records of Nunes, attorney Rudy Guiliani, and others during a recent session of the impeachment inquiry.
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He denied he ordered the subpoena of Nunes’ records — but Schiff defended it, arguing it is common practice for investigators to use phone records to corroborate or contradict a witness’s testimony.
And while the Intelligence Committee is said to have given a written request to Guiliani on September 30, Schiff — already called a hypocrite for past impeachment stances — reportedly disregarded the two-week wait for Guiliani to comply and sent the subpoena to the attorney’s phone carrier the same day.
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The data collected shows only phone numbers and durations of calls; the contents of such calls and texts are not documented.
Regardless of what was included in the records, Mukasey says Congress lacks the legal ability to subpoena records from a phone company directly, an action limited to law enforcement agencies or in life-threatening cases.
Lawmakers themselves are not given that power.
The question remains as to how Congress actually acquired the subpoenaed information — and Mukasey wants an explanation from the head of the impeachment inquiry.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is outraged at Schiff, insisting he abused the congressional ability to write its own subpoenas and circumvent normal subpoena processes.
As a standard, “attorney-client privilege is assumed unless there is evidence of a crime by the attorney,” said Paul, who criticized both Congress and Schiff as those who “don’t think they need to follow this standard.”
Mukasey echoed Paul’s concern, telling The Wall Street Journal that the pursuit of Guiliani “raises questions of work-product and attorney-client privilege.”
Nunes says he will pursue legal action and expressed concern over the breach in constitutional privacy; he also questioned the ethics of one member of Congress dragging another down due to political animosity.
This piece originally appeared on ThePoliticalInsider.com and is used by permission.
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