National Security

Senate Judiciary begins investigation into DOJ lawmaker subpoenas

The Senate Judiciary Committee kicked off its investigation into subpoenas initiated under the Trump administration, asking the Department of Justice (DOJ) to turn over reams of documents as well as the justification for targeting two House Democrats.

In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland Monday, lawmakers ask DOJ to name names by listing the officials responsible for initiating subpoenas of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.).

“These actions by former President Trump and Attorney General [William] Barr raise additional concerns that DOJ’s investigative decisions in this case were motivated by improper political considerations,” the committee’s Democrats wrote in the letter.

The letter also asks DOJ to “preserve all relevant materials,” noting that “several officials who reportedly oversaw these egregious overreaches remain at DOJ, including the handpicked prosecutor Attorney General Barr assigned to the case in February 2020.”

The request comes as DOJ is scrambling to contain the fallout following news that under Trump the department seized the records not only of lawmakers, but also reports from three news outlets and former White House counsel Don McGahn.

Many of the leak investigations began in 2017 and 2018, appearing to focus on stories from the early days of the Trump administration as well as Democrats’ efforts in investigating Trump. 

The initial inquiry from Senate Judiciary focuses squarely on the lawmakers, asking DOJ to explain the “factual and legal predicate” for targeting the two members along with other staff and family members as well as the process for obtaining the subpoenas. It asks DOJ to disclose if it sought the records of any other lawmakers.

It also asks the department to turn over the subpoenas and explain the entire process of seeking the lawmakers’ data from Apple, including whether the Office of Legal Counsel offered advice on the matter.

In a statement Friday, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) called on Barr as well as former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to testify before the committee or face a subpoena — a move that would require the support of at least one Republican.

The request shows the extent the committee plans to focus its efforts on the two former attorneys general, asking both for communications related to the initial decisions made under Sessions as well as communications related to Barr’s decision to assign a career prosecutor to oversee the investigation.

Tags Adam Schiff Apple Chuck Schumer Dick Durbin Donald Trump Eric Swalwell Google Jeff Sessions Justice Department lawmaker subpoenas Merrick Garland Senate Judiciary Committee Trump DOJ

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