Man faces 15 years in prison after death threats sent to congressman

A Connecticut man has been charged with threatening to kill U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who served as the lead impeachment manager at President Donald Trump’s Senate trial earlier this year, according to federal authorities.

Robert M. Phelps, 62, of Torrington was arrested March 13 for allegedly writing a threatening message on the congressman's official website, said Connecticut U.S. district attorney John H. Durham in a news release.

Phelps is formally charged with threatening to assault and murder a U.S. official, which carries a maximum term of 10 years in prison. He also faces five additional years if found guilty on one count of making interstate threats.

Why we picked this story

At our morning team huddle, we discuss stories that are “talkers.” People are primed to look for driving forces in the world, ones that we can explain through our collective experience. This is one example.

After his arrest, Phelps appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge William I. Garfinkel in Bridgeport, according to the report.

He has since been freed on $25,000 bond and is awaiting trial.

The alleged message was written around the time of the congressional inquiry into Trump’s dealings in Ukraine and more than a month before the impeachment articles were approved.

Schiff is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

According to the charges, Phelps wrote the message to Schiff on Nov. 12 using a form on the website to request a meeting with the congressman. The message allegedly said, “I want to kill you with my bare hands and smash your … face in.”

Where the form asks for the preferred day that Phelps would like to meet Schiff, he wrote “Measure your Coffin day,” according to the charges.

On Dec. 4, FBI agents showed up at Phelps’ residence in Torrington to confront him about the communication and determined he wrote it.