RNC Funded Roughly 11,000 Automated Calls to Jam Up House Democrats' Phone Lines Amid Impeachment Battle: Report

The Republican National Committee (RNC) in recent weeks have reportedly funded thousands of automated phone calls to jam up the offices of dozens of House Democrats amid the fight surrounding the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

Two unnamed sources briefed on the effort told The New York Times that the coordinated phone blast tactic aimed to shape public opinion of the investigation, as well as simply to tie up the phone lines of the elected officials. Approximately 11,000 calls were reportedly made as part of the scheme.

The calls were recently discussed at the so-called "Off the Record" dinner, an event attended by more than 12 Republican elected politicians, advisers and aides. Two unnamed sources who were briefed about the event told the Times that RNC officials discussed the phone jamming efforts during the dinner, suggested the calls were automated and admitted it was done to tie up the Democrats' phone lines.

RNC officials said the calls were not prerecorded "robocalls," and asserted that they used a vendor to survey voters. The voters that opposed Trump's official impeachment inquiry were then automatically offered to be connected to the offices of their congressional representatives, according to the officials.

"Our supporters are incredibly fired up to help us fight this impeachment charade," RNC spokesperson Mike Reed said. "Our 'stop the madness' campaign has helped hundreds of thousands of voters get the information they need to reach out to their Democrat representatives and tell them to drop the phoney impeachment inquiry and get back to work for the American people."

Although some campaign finance lawyers have denounced the targeting of House Democrats' offices as an attempt to restrict their communication capabilities, others have indicated that the RNC's efforts could be a legitimate use of campaign resources.

"They can use campaign and RNC funds for impeachment-related work, including legal and advocacy," former Democratic National Committee general counsel Joe Birkenstock said, adding that these efforts appear to go slightly beyond what is typically done.

The calls were not the first time members of the RNC have attempted similar phone-jamming efforts against Democrats. In 2002, the New Hampshire state Republican Party hired a telemarketing business to tie up the Democrats' get-out-the-vote phone line.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched the formal impeachment inquiry on September 24 after a whistleblower's complaint, which alleged that Trump asked Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to probe the family of former Vice President Joe Biden, became public. Trump on Monday demanded that the Ukraine whistleblower provide public testimony to Congress, something that the president himself declined to do amid former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Donald Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters before departing the White House November 01, 2019 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty