Seizure of AP Phone Records Include Phone Conversations between Congressmen and the Reporters, Rep. Claims
U.S. Representative for California’s 22nd congressional district, Devin Nunes, dropped a bombshell on the Hugh Hewitt radio show yesterday, claiming that the Department of Justice wire-tapped the House of Representatives Cloak Rooms.
During the interview, the host and the Representative were discussing the issue of DoJ seizing the phone records of Associated Press reporters and editors without a warrant or even notifying the news agency, Mr. Nunes said:
“I don’t think people are focusing on the right thing when they talk about going after the AP reporters. The big problem that I see is that they actually tapped right where I’m sitting right now, the Cloak Room.”
The cloakrooms are designated resting rooms for the congressmen where the members can socialize, eat, and take naps without leaving the building. Only Senators and Representatives, and a few of their trusted staffers are allowed in these rooms. The rooms have their private phone lines and numbers available to the congressmen.
Department of Justice has not provided a statement yet, whether or not the allegation is true.
However, Jack Langer, director of communications for Nunes, issued this statement:
“What Rep. Nunes meant by “tapped” was that the DOJ seized the phone records, as has been widely reported. There was a little confusion between him and the host during the conversation: He did not mean to refer to phone records of the cloakroom itself, but of the Capitol. This refers to the phone records for the AP from the House press gallery, which the DOJ admitted to looking at. He was explaining that if those phone records were seized, they would reveal a lot of conversations between the press and members of Congress, since reporters often speak to Members from the press gallery phones. The notion of the DOJ looking at phone records from the Capitol of conversations between Members of Congress and reporters is something that concerns Rep. Nunes, bringing up issues related to the separation of powers.”
In September 2012, the ACLU released a report that under the Obama Administration, warrantless wire-tapping and monitoring of American’s electronic communications has quadrupled.
The ACLU obtained the documents from the federal government after months of litigation through the Freedom of Information Act, proving that real-time monitoring of electronic communications inside the U.S. has climbed 60 percent since 2009 and far surpasses monitoring under President Bush.
Image credits: Video is from the Hugh Hewitt show, image is from the ACLU website