Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) accused Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) of illegally leaking information and phone call records and demanded that the Department of Justice investigate any illegal information release.
Stefanik, the No. 3 House Republican, mentioned Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, after being asked about claims that former President Trump’s Department of Justice seized phone records from Congress members, advisers, and reporters, Washington Examiner reported.
“Well first of all, having served on the House Intelligence Committee we’ve seen illegal leaks from our colleagues on the House Intelligence Committee and there have been numerous referrals to the Department of Justice,” the New York lawmaker said. She added that the DOJ must investigate whether there were any illegal leaks by lawmakers or their staffers.
“Let’s also be perfectly clear, here, that Adam Schiff, as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, released information regarding the ranking member Devin Nunes’s phone calls, as well as reporters. That is unethical. Frankly, I believe that’s illegal,” Stefanik said.
House Intelligence Committee’s Trump-Ukraine impeachment investigation report from the Democrats was released in 2019. It contained records of some phone calls by Rudy Giuliani and Jay Sekulow, the president’s lawyers; intelligence committee ranking member Devin Nunes (R-Calif.); journalist John Solomon; and Fox News host Sean Hannity, among others.
Democrats on the committee said at the time that they did not subpoena Nunes and Solomon’s records but that the records were included among other subpoenaed documents.
The New York Times (NYT) revealed last week that the Department of Justice has personally subpoenaed the data concerning members of Congress.
According to the NYT, Department of Justice prosecutors in 2017 and 2018 “subpoenaed Apple for data from the accounts of at least two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, aides, and family members,” during a leak investigation. The report added that “the records of at least a dozen people tied to the committee were seized.”
Directly addressing claims of conduct of federal prosecutors, Stefanik said she thinks the inspector general is going to look into this to see if the Department of Justice overreached in any way.
“I certainly think the inspector general is going to look into this, whether there was any overreach by the Department of Justice,” Stefanik said.
Stefanik would not say whether she wants former Attorneys General William Barr and Jeff Sessions to testify on the phone records seizure.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer threatened to subpoena the two former attorneys general, over congressional phone records secretly seized by the Justice Department during the Trump administration. The move was promptly criticized as a “witch hunt” by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“But make no mistake, there have been illegal leaks from members of Congress. That’s a national security risk. That is a federal crime. It’s very serious. And we want to make sure that the Department of Justice is able to pursue any type of criminal illegal leaks,” she said.
The House Judiciary Committee will launch a probe into the secret subpoenas.
“Congress must make it extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, for the Department to spy on the Congress or the news media,” New York Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the committee, said in a statement on Monday June 14. “We should make it hard for prosecutors to hide behind secret gag orders for years at a time. We cannot rely on the department alone to make these changes.”
Stefanik recently took over as Chair of the House Republican Conference after Rep. Liz Cheney was forced to resign from the leadership post.