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Congressman: Justice Dept. Wiretapped the House of Representative's Cloak Room

6:14 AM, May 16, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
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California congressman Devin Nunes made the claim yesterday that the Justice Department wiretapped telephones in the House of Representative's Cloak Room, an exclusive part of the Capitol where members are able to privately interact with one another. Nunes made the claim on Hugh Hewitt's radio show.

"I don’t trust the Department of Justice on this," said Hewitt, referring to the subpoenas the Justice Department to obtain the Associated Press's phone records. "Do you, Congressman Nunes?"

"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," Nunes respond.

Hewitt was surprised. "Wait a minute, this is news to me," he said.

"The Cloak Room in the House of Representatives," Nunes repeated.

Hewitt again expressed surprise. "I have no idea what you’re talking about," said the radio host.

"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," Nunes claimed. 

Hewitt responded by saying, "Wow."

UPDATE: Jack Langer, Rep. Nunes's communications director, emails this clarification:

I wanted to make a clarification for your article. 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 from the AP’s desk in the 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.

Although his comments were a bit unclear, he clarified soon after in the interview:

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…

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