GOP member urges Graham to subpoena Schiff, Biden phone records

A House Republican is pressing Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to subpoena the call records of top Democrats and a whistleblower lawyer, signaling a new GOP line of defense amid the impeachment inquiry examining President Trump’s ties to Ukraine.

Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), one of Trump’s House allies, asked Graham in a letter Wednesday to subpoena AT&T for the call records of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as the attorney for Ukraine whistleblower, Mark Zaid.

“Chairman, I urge you to utilize your subpoena power as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and obtain call records for the following individuals: Rep. Adam Schiff, The whistleblower’s lawyer Mark Zaid, Former Vice President Joe Biden, and Hunter Biden,” Banks wrote to Graham.

“This quixotic impeachment inquiry must be shelved, Mr. Chairman. And Rep. Adam Schiff should be held to the same standard to which he holds others. It is time to see his phone records,” he continued.  

Banks framed his request as an act of transparency, arguing that the public should know with whom Schiff worked to coordinate Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. The impeachment inquiry was opened to examine allegations that Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to commit to opening two investigations that would benefit him politically, including into one of his top 2020 political rivals.

“The public has a right to know with whom Rep. Adam Schiff has coordinated his impeachment effort and if America’s national security is at risk in any way as a result of Rep. Schiff’s actions,” Banks said, adding that they “already know that our national security is threatened by pursuing impeachment.” 

The move comes after Schiff released call records of ranking member Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who is a key defender of the president in the lower chamber.

A committee official, in response to the request, pushed back against Banks’s request by highlighting that Democrats did not subpoena the call records of Nunes or John Solomon, a conservative columnist formerly with The Hill, who published a series of articles pushing unfounded theories about U.S.-Ukraine relations. Their call records, however, were obtained through a subpoena seeking the phone records of other witnesses tied to the investigation.

“The Republican Minority of the three committees has had access to these subpoenaed records and even the subpoenas themselves, and knows full well that neither Mr. Nunes nor Mr. Solomon were subpoenaed, nor were their call records,” the official said in a statement to The Hill.

Banks’s letter comes as Republicans have stepped up their calls in recent weeks for Schiff to be brought before the House Judiciary Committee as an impeachment witness. The demand took off following revelations weeks ago that the Ukraine whistleblower approached a Democratic staff member on the Intelligence Committee prior to the start of the panel’s Ukraine investigation.

Republicans have also directed their ire at the whistleblower who first brought forward the allegations that Trump pressed Zelensky for investigations in a July 25, who claimed in a complaint that Trump allegedly dangled the possibility of a White House visit and nearly $400 million in U.S. aid as leverage. 

Trump has denied wrongdoing, saying there was no quid pro quo.

In this case, Banks is asking for the call records for Zaid, one of the whistleblowers’ two attorneys, which could lead Republicans to move further in their pursuit of revealing the identity of the person behind the allegations.

Zaid in a statement called this attempt “nothing but a red herring to deflect from Republicans having to address substantive questions as to the President’s conduct.”
 
“For one thing, many of my phone records would be protected by attorney-client privilege, but I can disclose they would reveal my direct contact with a specific Member of Congress, as well as his senior staff – Devin Nunes,” Zaid said in a statement to The Hill.

Representatives for the former vice president and Hunter Biden did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

If Graham agrees, he would effectively be turning the tables on Democrats as impeachment races closer to their soft deadline of wrapping up at the end of the year.

The call records, obtained by Democrats who issued a subpoena to AT&T, revealed the time and duration of calls placed between Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer; Lev Parnas, a Soviet-born business associate of Giuliani’s and Solomon. The records did not include content of the contacts.

The revelation of the phone records, which were new details in a 300-page memo detailing the Democrats’ impeachment investigation findings, was received with protests by Republicans, who called foul. 

“It seems AT&T is willing to fork over personal phone records to anyone waving a subpoena in their face. Time for Rep. Schiff to get a taste of his own medicine,” Banks said in a statement to The Hill.

Still, Democrats have used the records to back up their claims that the president and his allies coordinated on Ukraine foreign policy, arguing that this may now extend to a member of Congress.

Schiff, who has had a frosty relationship with Nunes since the start of a separate investigation into Russian meddling in U.S. elections, said during a Tuesday press conference that it’s “deeply concerning” if members of Congress may have also been “complicit” in digging up dirt on the president’s political rival.

The letter was sent on the same day as the House Judiciary hearing, which featured a panel of constitutional scholars — three invited by Democrats, one by Republicans — who were brought to testify about whether Trump’s actions constituted high crimes and misdemeanors.

 

12.4.19 Letter to Sen. Graham by M Mali on Scribd

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Written by Alan Smith

Alan Smith

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