(CN) – A Connecticut man has been arrested on charges of making a death threat against California Congressman Adam Schiff in an email that invited the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee to a “Measure Your Coffin Day.”
Schiff’s role in the impeachment proceedings of President Donald Trump prompted 62-year-old Robert Phelps to send the email, according to an affidavit released Monday from the Justice Department, which says Phelps told FBI agents he had a right to contact members of Congress and defend “his president.”
Federal prosecutors say Phelps sent the email to Schiff’s congressional office in the form of a meeting request on Nov. 19, 2019, writing: “You little cocksucker I want to come and see you so I can spit in your face and I want to kill you with my bare hands and smash your sick little round fat lying face in. You had better hope I never meet up with you mother fucker.”
At the time, televised testimony had not begun in the impeachment proceedings against Trump, who was accused of abusing his power by withholding military aid to pressure Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to pursue and publicly declare an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter and the Ukrainian energy firm Burisima, where Hunter once sat on the board.
According to a 5-page affidavit, FBI agents were able to see the IP address from which the email was sent, though Phelps had signed the email with his full name, personal email and physical addresses, phone number, and an emphasis that he is a Republican.
FBI agents interviewed Phelps on Dec. 4, and he acknowledged sending the email. He told agents he did not find it threatening.
He asked the agents if they were in his home because of Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, also a Democrat, and that all the Democrats involved in the impeachment proceedings against Trump should be arrested. He also told agents he would not send any additional threatening emails.
But federal agents say there is probable cause to believe that Phelps knew he was making a threat and “consciously disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the communication would be viewed as a threat.” The threats were made with the intent to “impede, intimidate and interfere” with Schiff’s official duties in the impeachment proceedings, according to the affidavit.
Authorities arrested Phelps on March 13, and he appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge William I. Garfinkel in Bridgeport, Connecticut, at that time. Garfinkel released Phelps on a $25,000 bond.
Phelps faces charges of threatening to assault and murder a U.S. official on the account of performance of official duties and making interstate threats. If convicted, he faces 15 years in prison.