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 TrumpTrump PACs brought in over M for the first half of 2021 Chicago owes Trump M tax refund, state's attorney mounts legal challenge Biden hits resistance from unions on vaccine requirement MORE’s perceived political enemies," the panel's chairman, Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerBiden backs effort to include immigration in budget package Biden to meet with 11 Democratic lawmakers on DACA: report Britney Spears's new attorney files motion to remove her dad as conservator 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 SchiffOfficers offer harrowing accounts at first Jan. 6 committee hearing Live coverage: House panel holds first hearing on Jan. 6 probe Five things to watch as Jan. 6 panel begins its work MORE (D-Calif.) and Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellCalifornia Democrats warn of low turnout in recall election DOJ declines to back Mo Brooks's defense against Swalwell's riot lawsuit Tech executives increased political donations amid lobbying push 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 SessionsWant to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump Democrat stalls Biden's border nominee Garland strikes down Trump-era immigration court rule, empowering judges to pause cases MORE and William BarrBill BarrTrump called acting attorney general almost daily to push election voter fraud claim: report Highest-ranking GOP assemblyman in WI against another audit of 2020 vote Native Americans are targets of voter suppression too 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 GarlandDOJ sues Texas over Abbott order restricting transportation of migrants Graham, Cuellar press Biden to name border czar Garland floats legal action over Abbott immigration order 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.