UPDATE 11:00 a.m. ET — Rep. Nune’s director of communications, Jack Langer, clarified the congressman’s comments Thursday morning:
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.
Congressman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said Wednesday during an interview on the Hugh Hewitt Show that the Justice Department’s investigation of the Associated Press involved seizing phone records from the United States Capitol.
Here’s how the conversation went down [h/t Hot Air]:
HH: The idea that this might be a Geithner-Axelrod plan, and by that, the sort of intimation, Henry II style, will no one rid me of this turbulent priest, will no one rid me of these turbulent Tea Parties, that might have just been a hint, a shift of an eyebrow, a change in the tone of voice. That’s going to take a long time to get to. I don’t trust the Department of Justice on this. Do you, Congressman Nunes?
DN: No, I absolutely do not, especially after this wiretapping incident, essentially, of the House of Representative. 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.
HH: Wait a minute, this is news to me.
DN: The Cloak Room in the House of Representatives.
HH: I have no idea what you’re talking about.
DN: So when they went after the AP reporters, right? Went after all of their phone records, they went after the phone records, including right up here in the House Gallery, right up from where I’m sitting right now. So you have a real separation of powers issue that did this really rise to the level that you would have to get phone records that would, that would most likely include members of Congress, because as you know…
DN: …members of Congress talk to the press all the time.
HH: I did not know that, and that is a stunner.
DN: Now that is a separation of powers issue here, Hugh.
DN: And it’s a freedom of press issue. And now you’ve got the IRS going after people. So these things are starting to cascade one upon the other, and you have the White House pretending like they’re in the clouds like it’s not their issue somehow.
For those of you who don’t know what a congressional cloakroom is, it’s where U.S. lawmakers go to relax between sessions. The House and Senate cloakrooms, which have their own phone numbers, are not open to the media or the public.
Now, the press gallery is different. That’s obviously reserved for media. It also has phones. So if AP reporters were making calls to members of Congress via the press gallery, it appears the DOJ looked into those records (they did not wiretap the building):
The congressman’s revelation is particularly interesting considering the fact that even U.S Attorney General Eric Holder claims he provided the DOJ with his phone records.
“Some of my telephone records were examined,” Holder said during a congressional hearing Wednesday.
“I voluntarily turned them over,” he added.
At this point, who hasn’t had their phone records examined by the DOJ?
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Featured image Getty Images. This post has been updated for clarity.