House Democrats Use Unlawful Phone Records to Argue Need for More Documents

Val Demings (Senate TV / Getty)
Senate TV / Getty

House impeachment manager Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) used controversial phone records that were likely obtained unlawfully by the House Intelligence Committee to argue the Senate should subpoena State Department documents.

Demings was arguing on the Senate floor during the first day of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, supporting an amendment introduced by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to a procedural resolution.

She referred to phone records that were first revealed to the public in the Intelligence Committee’s impeachment report, and which purport to show calls involving Ranking Member Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), presidential lawyer Rudy Giuliani, journalist John Solomon, indicted Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, the White House, and others.

It is not clear what authority Schiff had to obtain the records from AT&T. The Wall Street Journal‘s Kim Strassel wrote last month that Schiff had likely violated federal law, and Nunes told radio host Mark Levin that his rights had been violated and he was preserving all legal options to use in possible future court actions against Schiff. The White House also disputed the accuracy of the records in the report, saying Schiff had cited a wrong number in describing alleged phone calls between Giuliani and the White House Office of Management and Budget.

As Breitbart News noted, Schiff’s snooping in phone records would appear to have violated several amendments in the Bill of Rights.

But Demings cited the phone records anyway:

Moreover, based on called records lawfully obtained [sic] by the House from this period, we know that from March 24 to March 30, Mr. Giuliani called the White House several times, and also connected with an unidentified number numerous times. These records show that on March 27, Mr. Giuliani placed a series of calls, a series of calls to the State Department switchboard, Secretary [of State Mike] Pompeo’s assistant, and the White House switchboard, in quick succession, all within less than 30 minutes.

Demings said it was necessary to know about these records to identify President Trump’s alleged role in a “plot.”

If, as seems likely, Schiff violated the constitutional rights of the president and others in snooping in their phone records, and publishing them without warning, any evidence he obtained would likely be inadmissible in a normal criminal court as “fruit of the poisoned tree.”

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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