The federal prosecutors persecuting former Trump Advisor and Breitbart head Steve Bannon received a major slap back from the judge in the case on Wednesday, rebuked for their not getting approval from DOJ higher-ups before spying on Bannon’s lawyer, a shocking move. As YahooNews reports:
“Federal prosecutors going after Steve Bannon for contempt of Congress revealed on Wednesday that they sought no approval from higher-ranking Justice Department officials before they took the unusual move to spy on his lawyer—in addition to erroneously targeting a number of other Americans with similar names.”
And what exactly was it they were doing when spying on Bannon’s lawyer, Robert Costello? They were creating a log of his phone calls, texts, and emails. They were effectively spying on all of his means of communication without even getting a DOJ greenlight.
What they wanted from the communications is unclear, though YahooNews indicates that they might have been trying to prove that Bannon didn’t rely on Costello’s advice when he, back in October, ignored Congressional demands and refused to testify before the Jan. 6 Committee.
Well, Judge Carl Nichols skewered them for not getting DOJ approval for their spying on Bannon’s lawyer, saying:
“What’s unique here is that the government didn’t just go get regular records. Why is that an appropriate first move?”
Bannon, speaking outside the courtroom about the government’s spying on his lawyer’s communications, said:
“The behavior of the FBI and, quite frankly, DOJ has been outrageous to my attorney and the attorney-client privilege.
“Everything that was in the background of this, everything that went to the grand jury. Everything ought to come out. The media ought to have—the American people ought to have—access to all the information about this. It’s in your interest, and it’s worth fighting for.”
Indeed. Both freedom of the press and the right to attorney-client privilege are bedrocks of the American justice system and the willingness of these prosecutors to just throw those principles out the window is highly disturbing.
The lawyer involved, Robert Costello, spoke out too, mocking the DOJ for targeting the wrong people in its attempt to spy on him by saying “I’m the actual Robert Costello they were looking for. It, quite frankly, shows a terrible abuse of the grand jury process.”
As a result of Wednesday’s revelations, Judge Nicols ruled that the government prosecutors have to turn over both the phone records requests and the phone records they actually collected for him (Judge Nicols) to review, presumably so he can check for violations of attorney-client privilege or other misdeeds.
According to YahooNews, Judge Nicols also apparently told Bannon’s team that he understood they might want to seek to either refer the prosecutors to a watchdog agency or for a reprimand of those prosecutors, but that he isn’t taking action for now.
Bannon and his team were furious, so it seems likely they’ll take Nicols up on his offer and seek some sort of sanction or reprimand for the prosecutors that spied on them.
This story syndicated with permission from Will, Author at Trending Politics
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