Republican lawmakers are at their wits’ end with Adam Schiff (D-CA) after the House Democrat published Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) personal phone records — and now, some are saying it’s time to hit back.
Republican Rep. Jim Banks (IN) is pressing Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to subpoena Schiff’s phone calls in a “tit for tat.” Graham has rebuffed the proposal, but some House Republicans, including Intelligence panel member Elise Stefanik (R-NY), are supporting Banks.
“I want to be very clear — I think surveilling members of the opposite political party is a disgrace,” Banks wrote in a column for Fox News. “But I don’t think it will stop unless we start fighting back. We need to show Mr. Schiff that he can’t just abuse his power and get away with it.”
“A taste of his own medicine”
Schiff has played a leading and controversial role in the impeachment of President Donald Trump, despite a reputation for unscrupulous tactics and a cavalier attitude toward the truth. When Democrats voted last month to approve impeachment rules that gave Nunes limited power to call witnesses in Schiff’s public hearings, Republicans immediately cried foul.
But their worst expectations were exceeded when Schiff published a 300-page impeachment report last week that included phone records of Nunes, journalist John Solomon, and other figures tangentially connected with Rudy Giuliani that Schiff obtained from AT&T. It came as a shock to Nunes, the ranking member of Schiff’s Intelligence Committee, who has since raised the possibility of taking legal action for the privacy breach.
In a column for Fox, Banks notes that media personalities like Kimberly Strassel and Tucker Carlson have raised the alarm about Schiff’s surveillance — but without action in Congress, Schiff and his fellow Democrats will continue to abuse power with impunity. The Republican is calling on Graham to retaliate against the California Democrat, with the hope of exposing any links Schiff may have with the so-called Ukraine “whistleblower,” who still has not been officially identified.
“That is why I believe it is time to give Schiff a taste of his own medicine. Time for us to see Schiff’s call records and reveal if he coordinated with the whistleblower and to what extent he has put national security at risk in his campaign to impeach President Trump,” Banks wrote. “If we don’t push back against this impeachment sham, we all lose. The country loses. We need to signal to Democrats they will not get away with their abuse of power anymore.”
“Every American should be outraged”
In a letter to Graham last week, Banks urged the senator to subpoena phone records of Schiff, Joe and Hunter Biden, and the whistleblower’s attorney, Mark Zaid, who infamously warned of a “coup” against Donald Trump in resurfaced tweets, Fox notes. Graham has rejected Banks’ call, saying that “when members start subpoenaing each other as part of Oversight, the whole system breaks down.”
But Republican Rep. Stefanik, who sits on the Intelligence Committee, endorsed Banks’ call for retaliation Monday, tweeting that “every American should be outraged by this unprecedented abuse of power.”
Every American should be outraged by this unprecedented abuse of power by Adam Schiff. @WSJ
Adam Schiff should immediately release HIS personal phone records so the American people will be able to see his coordination with the whistleblower. https://t.co/YKltg9fz4n
— Elise Stefanik (@EliseStefanik) December 8, 2019
Republicans have also threatened to have Schiff testify about his staff’s early contacts with the whistleblower, about which Schiff lied in a September media appearance. But the impeachment is moving speedily through the House Judiciary Committee, and Graham has said he has no intentions of calling Schiff to the witness stand, The Epoch Times reported, a move that will likely anger Republicans already frustrated with Graham’s inaction on alleged abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
Schiff has defended his snooping, and Democrats and their allies in the mainstream media have backed him by tying Nunes together with Giuliani and Trump’s alleged Ukrainian plot. For their part, Democrats have said that they did not subpoena Nunes or Solomon (instead, they apparently spied on Giuliani and associates of Giuliani’s who happened to have had phone conversations with them).
“We did not subpoena any journalist’s call records,” Schiff said, according to the Washington Examiner. “That is just simply false information being pushed by the president’s defenders.”
At the end of the day, Banks is right — if Republicans don’t act, Democrats will see no reason to play by the rules.