Justice Department watchdog to probe data seizure as House Democrats discuss impacts of leak investigation



The request comes as Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, led by Chairman Adam Schiff, held a briefing. A source said the members were “animated” to try to figure out who in the Justice Department and the Trump administration were behind the effort to seize their records.

Activity is like this Explosion Revelation That Trump administration Justice Department prosecutors summoned Apple for data from the accounts of House Intelligence Committee Democrats along with their employees and family members as part of a leaked investigation.

Prosecutors were looking for sources behind news reports about contacts between Russia and Trump allies.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin are calling on former Attorney Generals William Barr and Jeff Sessions to testify on the case.

“If they refuse, they will be summoned and forced to testify under oath,” Democrats said in a statement.

“This issue should not be partisan; under the Constitution, Congress is a co-equal branch of government and must be protected from an overarching executive, and we expect our Republican allies to be able to get to the bottom of this serious matter.” Will join us,” Schumer and Durbin said.

Democrats ask Apple to determine if additional members were targeted by DOJ

According to a source familiar with the matter, the Intelligence Committee Democrats asked Apple to see if additional members were targeted by the Trump Justice Department.

Members are providing employees with all their different numbers and accounts, and employees will ask Apple to return information about whether they were the subject of a DOJ subpoena.

The source said there were generic “Apple notices” sent on May 5 to members whose records were confiscated. But members are concerned that those common emails could be ignored, deleted, or drifted into their spam folders.

Barr says Trump did not instruct him to target lawmakers

Barr told Politico in a telephone interview on Friday That he doesn’t remember that prosecutors at the Justice Department summoned him before Apple came into office.

According to Politico, Barr said that while he was attorney general, he “was not aware of any congressional records in the leaked case,” during the time he was attorney general, and that former President Donald Trump never told him. No instructions were given to target the MPs. investigation.

“Trump didn’t know who we were looking at in any case,” Barr told Politico. “I never discussed the leaked matters with Trump. He didn’t really ask me any details.”

Republicans focus on potential leak

Prominent Republicans issued statements focusing on the potential leaks rather than the ways the DOJ was investigating, and withheld decisions on whether the department was following the rules.

“Classified leaks and abuse of power are both serious crimes that must be met with dire consequences,” said Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. “We know that the Justice Department is capable of abusing its power, as it did when it secretly spied and conducted intelligence campaigns against the Trump campaign. We also know that Congress has classified information in the press may have leaked in, as was the case with the classified Carter Page FISA – the product of that abuse.”

He said the DOJ first investigated the lawmakers.

“Investigations of members of Congress and employees are nothing new, especially for confidential leaks,” Grassley said in a statement.

Utah GOP representative Chris Stewart echoed the sentiment.

“I have been concerned about the leak of classified information for many years, and have expressed my concerns. Leaks hurt our national security, break trust between government officials and the American people, and are very often misleading. , if not outright false,” Stewart, a member of the Intelligence Committee, said in a statement.

“I support the investigation into the leak of confidential information,” he said. “When the DOJ is operating within its legal limits, members of the Intelligence Committee should not be immune from proper investigation.”

White House calls report ‘horrifying’

In the Biden administration’s first on-camera response on Friday, White House communications director Kate Bedingfield called the reports “horrifying.”

“Reports of the Attorney General’s behavior under Donald Trump are appalling,” Bedingfield said during an appearance on MSNBC from Cornwall, England.

Bedingfield suggested that President Joe Biden has a “very different relationship” with the Justice Department than his predecessor, calling the Trump administration’s “abuse of power” with the department, and adding that the Biden administration’s Justice Department “Moves in a very, very different way.”

Biden, Bedingfield said, “respects the independence of the Justice Department, and it is an important part of its governance.”

Swellwell says Trump ‘armed’ the Justice Department

California Democratic Rep. Eric Swellwell, whose data was confiscated by the Trump administration, said Trump “armed” the Justice Department to dig into private communications.

“It’s about everyday Americans who don’t want to see their government arms law enforcement against them because of their political beliefs.” Swellwell told CNN’s Jim Sciutto on “The Newsroom.”

Asked Friday by Scuto whether he had leaked confidential information related to the investigation, Swellwell replied, “No, never.”

This story has been updated with Congressional Republican comments.

CNN’s Betsy Klein contributed to this report.

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