The Justice Department conducted an internal investigation on Friday after it was revealed that former President Donald Trump’s administration had seized telephone data from at least two House Democrats in 2018 as part of an aggressive leak investigation. Asked. The Democratic Party called this disclosure “disastrous.”
A senior Justice Department official told The Associated Press that Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco had requested a Justice Department inspector general. Officials could not discuss the issue publicly and told AP on condition of anonymity.
The Justice Department regularly investigates leaked information, but such investigations into lawmakers are extremely rare. The disclosure revealed that one department of the government was using the power of investigation and prosecution to spy on another.
Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Information Task Force, and Eric Swarwell, a member of the House of Representatives in California, said last month that the Trump administration’s Justice Department was part of a Russian investigation and other national security-related leak investigations three years ago. Apple has informed me that it has seized metadata. It is important. According to three people familiar with seizures,
Also on Friday, Senate Democratic leaders demanded that Attorney Generals Bill Barr and Jeff Sessions testify about the data shared by Apple, which was “shocking” and “significant abuse of power.” I called it.
Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer and Illinois Judiciary Committee chairman Dick Durbin said in a statement on Friday that Bar and Sessions “must testify at the Senate Judiciary Committee” if they refuse. Said to be subject to a summons letter.
The seizure suggests “weaponization of law enforcement by a corrupt president,” Schiff, who is now chair of the intelligence committee, said in a statement.
Mr. Trump’s Justice Department prosecutor has submitted a subpoena to Apple to submit the data, said a committee official and two others familiar with the internal affairs. The records of at least 12 people involved in the Intelligence Panel were eventually shared by the company.
Commission staff and two others who knew about the seizure of the data were allowed anonymity to discuss them.
Apple notified the commission last month that the record was shared and the investigation was completed, but did not provide details. Records of aides, former aides, and family members were also confiscated, one of whom was a minor, according to committee officials.
The Justice Department has obtained metadata (probably calls, text, location records), but not other content from devices such as photos, messages, and emails. Another said Apple had provided information to the Justice Department in accordance with the subpoena, but did not immediately notify members of Congress or the Commission about the disclosure.
The secret seizure was first reported by the New York Times.
The Trump administration’s attempt to secretly access the data occurred when the president was openly and privately yelling at Congress and then-special adviser Robert Mueller’s investigation into the relationship between the campaign and Russia. ..
Mr. Trump called the investigation a “witch hunt” and regularly criticized Democrats and Mr. Moller on Twitter and repeatedly dismissed it as a leak of “fake news” that he found harmful to his plans. As his private law firm.
Schiff and Swolwell were two of the most prominent Democrats on the Commission, led by Republicans during a Russian investigation. Both California lawmakers frequently appeared on cable news. Mr. Trump carefully observed these channels, if not not, and was enthusiastic about the press.
In a statement late Thursday, Mr. Schiff called for an investigation into the seizure by a Justice Ministry inspector general.
D-Calif.’S Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that the seizure of data “looks like another terrible attack on our democracy” made by the former president.
“The news about the politicization of the Trump administration’s Justice Department is disastrous,” she said.
Commission officials continue to seek additional information from the panel, but the Justice Department answers questions such as whether the investigation was properly grounded and focused solely on the Democratic Party. Said not.
It’s unclear why the Trump Justice Department targeted minors as part of the investigation. Swolwell confirmed that he had heard that his records had been confiscated and was aware that a minor was involved in CNN on Thursday night, who said, “Not for legal reasons. He was punitively targeted. ”
On Friday at CNN, Swolwell said he wouldn’t be surprised if the department was tracking other members as well. He said an internal investigation by the Justice Department could find it. Said. According to a fourth person who knew the investigation and allowed anonymity to discuss it, the Senate Select Committee on Information was not targeted as well.
There is no sign that the Justice Department used the record to prosecute anyone. After some of the information was declassified and released in the later years of the Trump administration, some prosecutors, even if they could cause a leak, would find it difficult to attempt and convicted. I was worried that it was unlikely to be done. People said.
Federal agents interrogated at least one former commissioner in 2020, he said, but the prosecution was unable to substantiate the case in the end.
The news follows the disclosure that the Justice Department secretly seized the phone records of reporters from The New York Times, The Washington Post, and CNN as part of a crime leak investigation. In response to protests from the press free group, the Justice Department announced last week that it would cease the practice of pursuing journalist sources.
The Associated Press writer Eric Tucker contributed to this report.
Justice Department Calls for Internal Investigation on Democratic Data Seizure – NBC4 Washington
Source link Justice Department Calls for Internal Investigation on Democratic Data Seizure – NBC4 Washington