Justice Department watchdog to investigate Democrats’ communications data entry

The Department of Justice’s internal watchdog will investigate efforts by the department during former President Donald Trump’s administration to seize Democrats’ communications data in the United States House of Representatives, confirmed the watchdog.

Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz said his office was beginning a review of “the Department’s use of subpoenas and other judicial authorities to obtain communications records from members of Congress and affiliates, and the media in recent media inquiries by government officials.

Horowitz said in a statement that his review “will examine the department’s compliance with applicable DOJ policies and procedures, and whether such uses, or investigations, were based on improper considerations.” He said his investigation could expand if “other unspecified issues” arose in the course of the investigation.

The Inspector General announced his review after Senate Democrats on Friday asked two former United States attorneys general to testify about subpoenas reported from Congressman files by Trump’s Justice Department. A White House official called the actions of the Trump administration “appalling.”

Trump’s Justice Department has subpoenaed Apple Inc (AAPL.O) to obtain data from the accounts of at least two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee to find out who was behind the leaks classified information, The New York Times reported Thursday. Read more

Congressional officials have said committee chairman Adam Schiff and committee member Eric Swalwell are the only lawmakers whose Justice Department Trump has been confirmed to have subpoenaed.

“President Trump has repeatedly and blatantly called for the Justice Department to carry out its political will and has tried to use the department as a stick against its political opponents and members of the media,” Schiff said in a statement. release Thursday that called for an inspector. general inquiry.

Former US President Donald Trump pauses during a speech at the North Carolina GOP convention dinner in Greenville, North Carolina, United States on June 5, 2021. REUTERS / Jonathan Drake

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Dick Durbin say Trump-era attorneys general Bill Barr and Jeff Sessions should be subpoenaed if necessary to compel them to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the covert data entry, calling it a “blatant abuse of power”. . “

Kate Bedingfield, White House communications director, said the Justice Department’s alleged activity exemplified the kind of abuse of power in the former administration that prompted Democratic President Joe Biden to run against the Republican Trump.

Biden was keen to mark the independence of the Justice Department, saying he serves the people, not the president.

Barr told Politico on Friday that while he was head of the Justice Department he was “unaware of the files of a congressman wanted in a leak case.”

Apple said on Friday it received a subpoena in February 2018 requesting customer information for 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses, not all of which were Apple customers.

Apple said the subpoena, accompanied by a gag order from a federal judge, “provided no information about the nature of the investigation and that it would have been virtually impossible for Apple to understand the intent of the information. desired without digging into user accounts. “

Apple said it limited the information provided to metadata and account subscriber information, and that it did not provide any content such as emails or images in response to the Justice Department’s subpoena.

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