A leading House Democrat expressed serious concern on Tuesday that the FBI is exploiting the ISIS-inspired massacre of 14 people in San Bernardino to sidestep Congress on the encryption debate.

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., said it was troubling “that in the middle of an ongoing congressional debate on this subject, the FBI would ask a federal magistrate to give them the special access to secure products that this committee, this Congress, and the administration have so far refused to provide.” He spoke at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee, of which he is the ranking Democratic member.

“Why has the government taken this step and forced this issue?” he asked.

It was a rhetorical question.

“I suspect that part of the answer lies in an email obtained by the Washington Post and reported to the public last September,” Conyers said.

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