In a plot with JPMorgan and its lawyer, former Obama AG Loretta Lynch, the Committee obtained the financial records of a citizen without judicial review.
It is indeed the case that the committee has asserted that nothing restricts or limits their authority to get information about whichever citizens they choose, and, even more radical, that the checks imposed on the FBI (such as requiring judicial approval for secret subpoenas) don’t apply to them either.
Under the Constitution and McCarthy-era Supreme Court cases interpreting it, the power to investigate crimes lies with the executive branch, supervised by the judiciary, and not with Congress.
Investigations are permitted by Congress, but only when they are designed to assist in its law-making duties (e.g., directing oil company executives to testify when considering new environmental laws) and to enhance oversight of the executive branch.
Two McCarthy-era Supreme Court cases ruled that Congress could not do what the 1/6 committee is now doing: open a separate, parallel criminal investigation in order to discover political crimes committed by private citizens. The reason such powers are dangerous is precisely because they are not subject to the same safeguards as the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.
And just as was true of the 1950s House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) that prompted those Supreme Court rulings, the 1/6 It has not restricted its illegal investigative activities to investigating officials in the executive branch or even individuals who engaged in violence or other illegal activity on January 6, but is rather investigating everyone who exercised their constitutional right to express opinions about and organize protests in response to their belief that the 2020 presidential election was rigged.
So, who’s starting to get really scared?
The first targets of the committee appear to be those who applied for protest permits in Washington: a perfectly legal, indeed constitutionally protected, act.
Power abuse is not an abstract concept. Congressional Committee 1/6 secretly obtained thousands of private documents about U.S. citizens, including their telephone records, email logs, internet and browsing history, and banking transactions.
They have done so without any limitations or safeguards: no judicial oversight, no warrants were necessary, and no legal restrictions were in place.
Indeed, the committee has been purposely attempting to prevent citizens who are the targets of their investigative orders to have any opportunity to contest the legality of this behavior in court.
Many dozens, if not hundreds, of subpoenas were sent to telecom companies, requesting a wide variety of email and internet records, and — without any legal basis — requesting that the companies not only turn over those documents, but also refrain from notifying their own customers.
When companies were unwilling to comply with this request, the committee suggested that they contact the committee directly or disregard this request — in other words, they did not want to let one of their targets know they were being investigated. (In that case, they would be able to seek a judicial ruling on the legality of the committee’s actions)
The committee is now escalating its aggressive investigation. The committee has begun sending subpoenas to private banks, demanding the banking records of private citizens, such that either the individual doesn’t find out what’s happening or finds out too late to get a judicial order about the legality of the committee’s behavior. As one example, they targeted JP Morgan with these subpoenas while knowing that bank is represented by former Obama Attorney General Loretta Lynch; Lynch, unsurprisingly, directed her client not to accommodate any requests from its own customers to ensure they could exercise their right to seek judicial review.
A subpoena was served by the 1/6 Committee on Taylor Budowich on November 22 — the former spokesman for the Trump campaign who has never worked for the United States government. The subpoena requested a wide range of documents, including his deposition testimony. Budowich was willing to comply by handing over a large amount of His personal records were provided to the FBI on December 14, followed by his flight to Washington on December 22, where he was questioned. Budowich is not suspected of committing violence or any other illegal acts at the Capitol on January 6. This private citizen is of no interest to them except for his connection to the Trump campaign and his statement that he believed the 2020 election was tainted with fraud.
Budowich learned from others that the committee was contacting banks directly for individuals’ personal accounts after furnishing those documents to the committee and testifying. His lawyer requested that his bank, JPMorgan Chase, be informed that he would object to their cooperation with any subpoena if he was not notified first so that he could seek legal review.
It is common for law enforcement agencies such as the FBI to serve subpoenas to third-party providers such as banks and internet service providers. A crucial right is guaranteed there: the right to challenge the legality of the action before the documents are produced.
A concealed subpoena makes it impossible for the person to obtain a judicial review. Meaning that one no longer gets the right to defend oneself.
Citizen generally learns of FBI subpoenas, and the FBI (with rare exceptions) has the power to impose a “gag order” or otherwise prevent the person from learning about it only if they persuade a judge that such a drastic measure is warranted (by arguing, for example, that a terror suspect will flee or destroy evidence if they learn they are being investigated).).
As a result, in most cases, a citizen can seek judicial protection from an investigation that results in an illegal act.
The 1/6 Committee does not recognize rights of any kind and does not recognize limits to its power. JPMorgan’s bank, Budowich’s bank, was also served with a subpoena on November 23, the same day Budowich’s bank was subpoenaed. In the original request, the bank was supposed to produce the records by December 7, but JPMorgan Chase — advised by Loretta Lynch — didn’t as the company’s legal counsel requested that the deadline be extended until December 24: the day before Christmas, knowing that courts would be closed that day and the following day. In fact, Budowich’s notice that JPMorgan had received a subpoena was sent to his home only on December 21 — three days before he was scheduled to testify in Washington before the committee.
It is likely that JPMorgan and Lynch knew that Budowich would not see the letter until he got home from work on December 22. That was less than 48 hours before the bank informed him they were handing over all of Budowich’s financial records to the committee.
Upon learning that JPMorgan had been subpoenaed, Budowich’s lawyers immediately informed JPMorgan that they had legal objections to the subpoena, and requested that the bank seek an extension from the committee in order to allow Budowich to seek a judicial ruling. Loretta Lynch advised the bank to deny his request — and said they intended to deliver the documents by Christmas regardless of whether he would have time to request judicial intervention. They wouldn’t even send him a copy of the subpoena they received from the committee, which Budowich, to this very day, has not seen.
Tomorrow- the rest of the story!