Recent reports revealed that the Department of Justice under former President Donald Trump subpoenaed the phone records of various individuals — including members of the House Intelligence Committee — as part of an investigation into the leaks that plagued his administration.
Although committee chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) has cried foul, House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY) defended the Justice Department’s move with a reminder of Schiff’s own previous actions.
“There have been numerous referrals”
As Stefanik noted, the California Democrat secretly obtained and published the phone records of ranking committee member Devin Nunes (R-CA).
According to the Washington Examiner, Stefanik’s remarks came during a press conference on Tuesday.
“We’ve seen illegal leaks from our colleagues on the House Intelligence Committee, and there have been numerous referrals to the Department of Justice,” she said. “It’s important that the Department of Justice determined if there were any illegal leaks — the leaks by members of Congress or their staff members.”
She went on to point out that Schiff, “as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, released information regarding the ranking member Devin Nunes’s phone calls, as well as reporters.”
That behavior, Stefanik concluded, is unethical and possibly illegal.
“A national security risk”
Her reference was to a 2019 impeachment investigation report regarding allegations of an improper phone call between Trump and the president of Ukraine. In that report, Schiff included information derived from the phone records of multiple Trump allies including attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jay Sekulow, and Fox News Channel personality Sean Hannity.
As the Daily Caller reported, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz has launched an investigation into the subpoenas apparently issued by the Trump administration in its probe of media leaks.
“I certainly think the inspector general is going to look into this, whether there was any overreach by the Department of Justice,” Stefanik concluded. “But make no mistake, there have been illegal leaks from members of Congress.”
She described the leaks as “very serious,” insisting that they represent “a national security risk” and “a federal crime” and signaling a desire “to make sure that the Department of Justice is able to pursue any type of criminal illegal leaks.”
Of course, Schiff sees things differently, as a spokesperson explained in a statement to The Hill, asserting: “Chairman Schiff never issued subpoenas for phone records for Members, despite many false assertions otherwise. As a member of our committee, Rep. Stefanik should know better.”