Rep. Adam B. Schiff subpoenaed thousands of pages of phone records of Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney, and a Giuliani associate — and in the process scooped up calls made by the congressman’s chief political rival, Rep. Devin Nunes.
That sequence explains how Mr. Schiff’s 300-page impeachment report last week surprisingly contained references to a smattering of calls last winter and spring gleaned from 3,500 pages of metadata. Those calls involved not an impeachment witness, but Mr. Nunes, one of his staffers and a former aide now at the White House National Security Council.
Mr. Nunes, California Republican, has called unprecedented Mr. Schiff’s tactic of targeting a member of Congress in an official report. The call list is sparse and provides zero information on what was discussed.
Republicans told The Washington Times that Mr. Schiff, California Democrat and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, included Mr. Nunes‘ name out of revenge. They said they may return the favor if Republicans win back the House next year.
The turning point: The FBI on Oct. 9 arrested Mr. Parnas and his business associate Igor Fruman on charges of making illegal campaign donations as a way to increase their political influences.
Mr. Parnas‘ attorney, Joseph A. Bondy, told CNN and The Daily Beast, that, according to his client, Mr. Nunes met secretly in Vienna in December 2018 with Viktor Shokin, a former Ukrainian chief prosecutor. Mr. Parnas said the motive was to find dirt on former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, a Democratic presidential candidate.
Mr. Nunes vehemently denied any such a trip or meeting. He filed a defamation lawsuit last week in U.S. District Court in Richmond, Virginia, against CNN. He said that on that particular 2018 trip, known as a congressional delegation, he visited only Libya and Malta, not Austria. He said he has never spoken with Mr. Shokin.
“Poor Lev,” Mr. Giuliani told Fox News. “I don’t know what he’s doing to himself.”
Mr. Nunes made two appearances on Fox News over the weekend and said Mr. Schiff violated his civil rights, which he will pursue in a court challenge.
Mr. Schiff also published the name of John Solomon, a longtime D.C. journalist who has been writing stories about the roles of Mr. Biden and his son Hunter in Ukrainian politics and business.
Mr. Nunes said Mr. Schiff is acting out of revenge. As House intelligence committee chairman in 2018, Mr. Nunes produced a Republican majority report that cleared the Trump campaign of an election conspiracy with the Kremlin. In March, special counsel Robert Mueller came to the same conclusion.
The congressman said Mr. Schiff acquired “pages of metadata of numbers. So somehow they went through there and found my cell number a few times, and what’s even worse is they selectively used my numbers in order to build on their conspiracy theory that somehow myself and my two staffers … that they don’t like because we embarrassed them with the Russia hoax. That’s what this is all about. It’s about retribution for what we’ve done to them the last three years because they don’t like that we outed them with their Russia hoax and now their Ukraine hoax. That’s what this is about. I’m not going to trust anything that Adam Schiff has to say until we go through thousands of pages of metadata.”
“It is, I think, deeply concerning that at a time when the president of the United States was using the power of his office to dig up dirt on a political rival that there may be evidence that there were members of Congress complicit in that activity,” Mr. Schiff said.
Mr. Nunes and Mr. Schiff, who sit side by side during committee hearings, have become intense rivals.
Mr. Schiff promoted the Trump-Russia election conspiracy and its prime artifact: a dossier financed by the Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton campaign and sourced to the Kremlin. Mr. Schiff fought all efforts by Mr. Nunes to discover who funded the dossier and how the FBI used it as a prime piece of evidence to target Trump associates.
Bidens and Burisma
Once impaneled as chairman after Democrats won control of the House in 2018 elections, Mr. Schiff encountered a revolt by Republicans. They demanded he resign over what they said were his lies about a conspiracy that never existed.
Mr. Schiff now is moving to impeach Mr. Trump for delaying security aid to Ukraine from July to September as a way to force Kyiv to investigate the Bidens and the country’s role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Mr. Trump denies Mr. Schiff’s allegation.
Without mentioning his name, Mr. Nunes at public hearings has twice brought up the fact that Mr. Schiff was pranked by a Russian radio personality into thinking he was talking by phone to a Ukrainian official who promised photographs of a naked Mr. Trump. A Schiff aide later sent an email to the supposed Ukrainian politician asking whether the photos had been sent to the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington.
Ukraine is where Mr. Giuliani came in. Mr. Trump tasked him to conduct the investigations of the Bidens and the 2016 election. Testimony showed that it was Mr. Giuliani who pushed the idea of holding up aid, much to the chagrin of State Department diplomats who viewed him as an interloper.
On Sept. 30, Mr. Schiff and other Democratic committee chairmen sent Mr. Parnas a letter demanding a wide array of documents and electronic data.
“Your failure or refusal to comply with this request, including at the direction or behest of the President or the White House, shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry and may be used as an adverse inference against you and anyone with whom you are acting in concern, including the President,” the Democrats’ letter said.
The FBI arrested Mr. Parnas nine days later. He is under house arrest in Florida.
The former New York mayor tweeted in response to Mr. Schiff: “The mere fact I had numerous calls with the White House does not establish any specific topic. Remember, I’m the President’s attorney.”
The Democrats’ impeachment report said Mr. Patel “maintained a close relationship with Ranking member Nunes after leaving his staff to join the NSC.”
The Democrats’ report contains a footnote to a story by the Daily Beast in which Mr. Nunes says he plans to sue for defamation.
Republican sources told The Washington Times that intelligence committee staffers, including Mr. Schiff’s, have a right to talk with subjects and gain information.
The report’s other notable phone log name is that of Mr. Solomon, who has worked at The Associated Press, The Washington Post, The Washington Times and The Hill. He now runs his own news website and has written a number of critical stories on the Bidens and Ukraine.
While Mr. Biden became the Obama administration’s point man on Ukraine, a corrupt natural gas firm, Burisma Holdings, placed Hunter Biden on the board of directors. Mr. Solomon obtained documents showing Burisma paid Hunter Biden’s company $3 million in over two years before he resigned this year.
In the murky world of politics and corruption in Ukraine, there are former officials who have made allegations against the Bidens and other politicians who say they did not commit any crimes.
The liberal press has attacked Mr. Solomon’s stories. He defends them, pointing to State Department documents showing Burisma sought Obama administration interference to stop an investigation by Kyiv prosecutors after it hired Hunter Biden.
Mr. Solomon tweeted after the impeachment report: “Adam Schiff arbitrarily releases my phone records as a 1st Amendment protected reporter.”
Patrick Boland, Mr. Schiff’s spokesman, released a statement, according to The Post: “The Committee did not subpoena call records for any member of Congress or their staff, including Ranking Member Nunes, or for any journalist, including Mr. Solomon. Any questions about the fact that Members, congressional staff, or journalists appear in call records released by the Committee should be directed at those individuals, who were in contact with individuals of investigative interest to the impeachment inquiry.”
AT&T, which proved some of the phone data, provided a statement to The Technology 202: “Like all companies, we are required by law to provide information to government and law enforcement agencies. In all cases, we ensure that requests for assistance are valid and that we act in compliance with the law.”
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