Garland pledges review of DOJ policies amid controversy

Garland pledges review of DOJ policies amid controversy
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Attorney General Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandGarland floats legal action over Abbott immigration order Gaetz, Greene and Gohmert turned away from jail to visit Jan. 6 defendants DOJ launches task force to address violent threats against election workers MORE said Monday the Department of Justice (DOJ) would revamp its policies for collecting records from lawmakers in light of news that under the Trump administration the department obtained records from two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee.

“As I stated during my confirmation hearing, political or other improper considerations must play no role in any investigative or prosecutorial decisions,” Garland said in a statement. “These principles that have long been held as sacrosanct by the DOJ career workforce will be vigorously guarded on my watch, and any failure to live up to them will be met with strict accountability.”

“Consistent with our commitment to the rule of law, we must ensure that full weight is accorded to separation-of-powers concerns moving forward,” he said.

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The statement comes as the DOJ is under increasing scrutiny for its handling of leak investigations initiated under the Trump administration that sought the records of 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 member Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellDOJ declines to back Mo Brooks's defense against Swalwell's riot lawsuit Tech executives increased political donations amid lobbying push Justice in legal knot in Mo Brooks, Trump case MORE (D-Calif.), journalists from at least three different media outlets and even former White House counsel Don McGahn.

The department’s inspector general announced Friday he would conduct a wide-ranging probe into the matter.

But Garland’s statement nodded to other “potentially problematic matters” that may surface as the department rethinks its own policies for seeking records.

“While that review is pending, I have instructed the Deputy Attorney General, who is already working on surfacing potentially problematic matters deserving high level review, to evaluate and strengthen the department’s existing policies and procedures for obtaining records of the Legislative branch,” he said, noting that there are “important questions that must be resolved” in connection with DOJ’s actions with regard to lawmakers.

Garland’s statement came amid news the Justice Department’s top national security official, John Demers, would resign from his post by the end of the week. 

Demers has served in the role since February 2018, taking the role shortly after some of the subpoenas to major communications companies had been issued.

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