U.S. Attorney John Durham of Connecticut may have been tasked by Attorney General Bill Barr to review the origins of the FBI’s Russia probe and “investigate the investigators,” but that doesn’t mean he isn’t also continuing to oversee other criminal prosecutions within his normal jurisdiction.
Durham’s office announced on Monday that federal felony charges have been leveled against a Connecticut man who sent an email threatening to assault and murder Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) during the height of the impeachment inquiry in the House, the Washington Examiner reported.
Threat on Schiff’s life
The threatening email was sent to Schiff on Nov. 12, 2019. At that time, Schiff, as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, was in the midst of holding private depositions and public hearings as part of the impeachment inquiry aimed at removing President Donald Trump from office.
In a press release from Durham’s office, it was revealed that 62-year-old Robert M. Phelps of Torrington, Connecticut, had been charged with making a threat to assault and murder a U.S. official and with making an interstate threat, two felony counts that carry potential maximum prison sentences of 10 years and five years, respectively.
After Phelps sent the threatening message in November, he was interviewed in his home on Dec. 4, 2019, and he confirmed to investigators that he had sent the email to Schiff. He was eventually arrested and charged on March 13, 2020, and was released on $25,000 bond after appearing before a judge.
“Kill you with my bare hands”
According to the criminal complaint filed against Phelps, it was noted that the threat was issued to Schiff via a Meeting Request form on the congressman’s website.
In the expletive-filled message, Phelps had threatened, “I want to kill you with my bare hands and smash your sick little round fat lying face in. You had better hope I never meet up with you mother f*****.”
As an additional threat, in the “preferred day” section of the meeting request form, he had written, “Measure your coffin day.” Incredibly, Phelps had signed the threatening message with his full name and actual address and phone number in Connecticut.
The complaint went on to note that, upon being confronted with the message by investigators in December, Phelps confirmed that he had sent it and claimed he saw nothing wrong or threatening about it.
He asserted that he had a right to contact any member of Congress and to defend the president, and he further insisted that investigators needed to arrest Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and other Democrats for attempting to impeach “his president.”
Unacceptable threats of violence
To be sure, there is little love lost between conservatives and Republicans and Democrats like Schiff who seem wholly focused on harassing and removing Trump from office, and Schiff is unlikely to receive much sympathy about the justifiable anger his actions have provoked.
That said, regardless of anything Schiff has done in his capacity as a member of Congress, it is unacceptable to make physical threats of violence and death against him or anyone else, and Phelps needs to be held accountable for doing so.