House Judiciary to probe DOJ's seizure of data from lawmakers, journalists

House Judiciary to probe DOJ's seizure of data from lawmakers, journalists
© New York TImes/Pool

The House Judiciary Committee announced on Monday that it would be opening an investigation into the Department of Justice's (DOJ) secret subpoenas of data from members of Congress and multiple journalists during the Trump administration.

"Recent reports suggest that, during the Trump Administration, the Department of Justice used criminal investigations as a pretext to spy on President TrumpDonald TrumpUkraine's president compares UN to 'a retired superhero' Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid Heller won't say if Biden won election MORE’s perceived political enemies," the panel's chairman, Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerBiden to raise refugee cap to 125,000 in October Ocasio-Cortez, Bush push to add expanded unemployment in .5T spending plan Angelina Jolie spotted in Capitol meeting with senators MORE (D-N.Y.), said in the announcement.

"It remains possible that these cases — which now include Members of Congress, members of the press, and President Trump’s own White House Counsel — are isolated incidents," Nadler added. "Even if these reports are completely unrelated, they raise serious constitutional and separation of power concerns. Congress must make it extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, for the Department to spy on the Congress or the news media."

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Last week, it was first reported by The New York Times that DOJ officials had subpoenaed Apple for information regarding accounts belonging to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHouse passes bill to compensate 'Havana syndrome' victims House Democrats unveil legislation to curtail presidential power Overnight Hillicon Valley — Hacking goes global MORE (D-Calif.) and Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellOvernight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Schumer: Dem unity will happen eventually; Newsom prevails How lawmakers aided the Afghan evacuation MORE (D-Calif.), both vocal critics of then-President Trump, as well as their aides and family members.

Former attorneys general under the Trump administration Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOvernight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability Stanford professors ask DOJ to stop looking for Chinese spies at universities in US Overnight Energy & Environment — Democrats detail clean electricity program MORE and William BarrBill BarrWoodward: Milley was 'setting in motion sensible precautions' with calls to China Barr-Durham investigation again fails to produce a main event Virginia governor's race enters new phase as early voting begins MORE as well as former Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinWashington still needs more transparency House Judiciary to probe DOJ's seizure of data from lawmakers, journalists The Hill's Morning Report - Biden-Putin meeting to dominate the week MORE have all denied knowledge of the DOJ subpoenas.

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday also launched an investigation into the subpoenas. The committee sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandLawmakers say police reform talks are over Supreme Court low on political standing Congress needs to push for more accountability in gymnasts' tragic sex abuse MORE requesting a list of names responsible for initiating the subpoenas and asked the department to preserve relevant documents.

Nadler said his panel's probe would seek to ascertain the full extent of the apparent "gross abuse of power" under the Trump administration and find the individuals responsible for the investigations.

"Like many Americans, I desperately want to see Attorney General Garland succeed in his goal of repairing the damage done by his predecessors and return a sense of 'normal' to the Department of Justice. It is an important and worthy undertaking," he said. "Accordingly, the House Judiciary Committee will investigate the Trump Administration’s surveillance of Members of Congress, the news media, and others."

The letter also asked the department to turn over the subpoenas and explain the process that went into seeking the data of U.S. lawmakers.