Exclusive — ‘We Caught Them Red-Handed’: DOJ Spied on GOP Staffers Probing the Origins of the Russia Collusion Hoax

The Department of Justice (DOJ) obtained private communications and other personal records of multiple Republican House and Senate staffers who were investigating the department’s role in the origins of the Russia collusion hoax, according to former senior Trump administration official Kash Patel.

A recently-revealed subpoena shows that the DOJ sought the records for not only Patel when he was an investigator for then-Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), but also those of Jason Foster, who was at the time chief investigative counsel to then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (I-IA) and was also looking into the DOJ’s role in the hoax.

According to multiple subpoenas revealed so far, the DOJ had subpoenaed Google, Apple, and other companies to obtain private records in what Patel believes was an unlawful attempt to dig up dirt on them in retaliation for investigating the Democrat-pushed hoax that Donald Trump’s campaign had colluded with Russia in the 2016 presidential election.

Kash Patel speaking with attendees at the 2022 AmericaFest at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona. (Gage Skidmore, Flickr)

In an exclusive interview with Breitbart News, Patel called it an abuse of power.

“You can get anything with a grand jury subpoena and this is what we know about. Did they surveil us with FBI agents? We don’t know,” Patel said, adding, “If you get a grand jury subpoena, you’re not just requesting Google [records]. You’re going to ask for everything that individual ever touched. Apple, Google, AT&T, Comcast, Xfinity, whatever, it’s all coming in. You’re not just going after one item. They have the ability to use the FBI databases to cull for information. And we know that Chris Wray’s FBI just last year was caught illegally querying the FISA database for American citizens 250,000 times. Each one of those instances is illegal. So, it’s not hard to believe that they would abuse their power again.”

Patel and Foster only learned about the DOJ’s subpoenas for their private records when they were notified by Google and other firms after court seals keeping the subpoenas secret expired.

Google notified Foster earlier this month that in 2017, the DOJ obtained records for his Google Voice telephone number between December 1, 2016, and May 1, 2017 — the exact time he was investigating the Russia hoax. Foster told that the DOJ also went after his wife’s phone records and also possibly one of his work phones he used for Senate business.

“This was just a fishing expedition to gather intel on their overseers in Congress,” Foster told the outlet. “We were their primary oversight committee. And we were asking them very pointed and difficult questions that they didn’t want to answer.”

The DOJ official who signed the subpoena was Tejpal Chawla, a federal prosecutor who has donated to Democrats, reported last week.

Chawla, an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Washington, DC, U.S. Attorney’s office, has donated a total of $2,851 to political campaigns since 1999, including to Democrat PAC ActBlue, Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, and Democrat senators and House members, according to the report.

Patel in the interview on Tuesday said DOJ’s conduct “dwarfs” its spying of Senate Intelligence Committee staffers who were investigating the CIA’s alleged abuse of suspected terrorists in detention.

“[There] they snooped on the staffers’ computers. Here they’re collecting up all of our data, cell phone, banking, personal financial, email, text. And that’s just what we know about,” he said.

Patel is suing the DOJ for violating his constitutional rights. He said it is particularly egregious since he was acting as a congressional watchdog at the time.

“When Congress comes in to expose government waste, fraud and abuse and corruption, the DOJ and FBI and other agencies aren’t supposed to use their powers to weaponize and seek revenge. And that’s what you’re seeing here,” he said, adding, “They did not have a justification to surveil myself and other senior congressional staffers; their justification was the weaponization of justice, to seek vengeance against the people that were exposing their unlawful activity. We caught them red-handed.”

Patel, at the time the DOJ sought records for, was working on the “Nunes memo” — which Democrats sought to block from being released. The memo, which was released in February 2018, exposed the flimsy and questionable rationale and legal underpinnings of the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign in 2016, which was based on a bogus document known as the “Steele dossier.”

Patel exposed that the dossier was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign via Democrat law firm Perkins Coie. Perkins Coie paid Fusion GPS, who hired former British spy Christopher Steele to produce the dossier, which was then used by the FBI to obtain multiple secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants on former Trump campaign advisers and circulated throughout the entire Obama executive branch to justify investigating Trump’s campaign and his subsequent administration.

“They were looking for dirt on us and on Devin Nunes because at the time — remember that time period was just before the release of the Nunes memo which I authored, which blew the lid on FISAGate, which showed the FBI lied to federal court and which showed they withheld exculpatory evidence,” Patel said.

Patel said the surveillance of him was done under then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who even threatened to subpoena staffs’ personal records during a closed-door meeting with Congress in January 2018. Patel said by that time, the DOJ had already requested their records.

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein speaks at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania on February 21, 2019, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Mark Makela/Getty Images)

“According to my subpoena, Rod Rosenstein authorized surveillance two months before that threat was ever made,” Patel said.

“Rosenstein and [FBI Director Christopher] Wray and myself, with Devin Nunes and a couple other staffers, were in the room,” he said.

Patel said he documented the incident and sent it to then-House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).

“They wanted me to just refer it to the inspector general. The coward that Paul Ryan was, didn’t want to stand up for staffers who were being threatened for running the investigation,” he said. “Now look where we are. Paul Ryan could have exposed this back then, and blown the lid on it back then.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), hands the Speaker\s gavel to newly elected House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on January 3, 2017, in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Patel said it is not only Republican staffers who have been surveilled.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who played a leading role in pushing the Russia collusion hoax, has said that the DOJ obtained his and his aides’ phone records, and called it a “terrible abuse of power.”

However, Patel believes the DOJ is claiming it was looking for leaks to the media across the board, in order to cover up its retaliation against him and Foster for their Russia collusion hoax oversight.

“The dates of the subpoenas don’t jive with their justification, if they were just looking at ‘leaks,’” he said. He said the DOJ also subpoenaed information on Patel from his time at the Department of Justice when he was in the National Security Division.

“What leaks are they talking about when I was a DOJ employee? They missed on that one,” he said.

Foster, who now runs Empower Oversight, last week filed a Freedom of Information request demanding records from the U.S. Attorney’s Office about their surveillance of congressional staff.

“You have to ask, how far does this go?” he told “We’re only just finding out about the Senate. We knew earlier about House Intel. Who else have they been monitoring? And for how long?”

DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz is looking into the DOJ’s use of subpoenas “and other legal authorities” to obtain the private communications records of lawmakers, staff, and journalists, according to the DOJ Office of Inspector General website:

The DOJ OIG is reviewing the DOJ’s use of subpoenas and other legal authorities to obtain communication records of Members of Congress and affiliated persons, and the news media in connection with recent investigations of alleged unauthorized disclosures of information to the media by government officials.
The review will examine the Department’s compliance with applicable DOJ policies and procedures, and whether any such uses, or the investigations, were based upon improper considerations.

“Whether you hated us back then [because of] the Nunes memo — well, every report since then has said the same thing we did,” Patel said. “We were the first out of the gate. The IG, John Durham, said there was no lawful basis to ever investigate Trump or his campaign and that FBI people lied to a federal court and the slew of other violations that they came up with.”

“They got caught. We asked them to help expose it and instead they doubled down and used the system of justice and FBI investigatory powers to try to take us out and silence us,” he said.

“I’m going to put Chris Wray, Rod Rosenstein … and other people in the hot seat under oath, and I’m going to depose them, and demand they answer these questions, and we’re going to watch them lie to the world,” Patel said, adding that Rosenstein currently works at Wray’s old law firm.

“None of this is a coincidence. These people cover up for each other and Chris Wray is still covering up for them as a director of the FBI and I’m going to expose it all,” he said.

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