WASHINGTON – Attorney General Merrick Garland mentioned the Justice Department is engaged on “surfacing potentially problematic matters” tied to the company’s aggressive leak investigations below the Trump administration, including that “important questions … must be resolved” concerning efforts to obtain phone records of lawmakers and their workers.
“As I stated during my confirmation hearing, political or other improper considerations must play no role in any investigative or prosecutorial decisions. 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,” Garland mentioned in an announcement Monday.
Meanwhile, the chief of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, John Demers, is departing amid a furor over telephone document disclosures, a Justice official mentioned Monday. The resignation of Demers comes a day after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., referred to as for Demers to testify concerning the DOJ motion focusing on the lawmakers.
A Justice official mentioned Demers’ had meant to go away the division earlier than the tip of June after remaining at his submit following the Trump administration.
Justice’s impartial watchdog has launched a broad investigation into whether or not the Trump administration and its two attorneys common improperly seized the communications records of the House Democratic lawmakers, their workers and journalists as a part of an aggressive leak investigation in 2018.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz mentioned final week his office will investigate whether the Justice Department complied with its personal insurance policies and procedures when it subpoenaed the communications knowledge of Democratic lawmakers, their associates, in addition to the telephone records of reporters from The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN.
While the inspector common’s investigation proceeds, Garland mentioned Monday he had instructed Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco to “evaluate and strengthen the department’s existing policies and procedures for obtaining records of the Legislative branch.”
“Consistent with our commitment to the rule of law, we must ensure that full weight is accorded to separation-of-powers concerns moving forward,” Garland mentioned.
Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell — two of former President Donald Trump’s most outspoken critics in Congress — confirmed final week that Trump-era Justice Department officers secretly seized their Apple telephone knowledge and that of 10 or so different House Intelligence Committee members, their aides and family, one in every of whom is a minor.
The revelations angered Democrats who’ve lengthy accused the previous president of utilizing the Justice Department to go after his perceived political enemies. Democratic leaders promptly referred to as for an investigation and demanded that former Attorneys General William Barr and Jeff Sessions testify concerning the seizure of telephone records.
“The news about the politicization of the Trump administration Justice Department is harrowing,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., mentioned in an announcement. “These actions appear to be yet another egregious assault on our democracy waged by the former president.”
The federal grand jury subpoena, which Apple obtained in February 2018, appeared to have forged a large web, seeking knowledge on greater than 100 telephone numbers and electronic mail addresses to search out out who talked to reporters.
Apple mentioned the subpoena sought “customer or subscriber account information” tied to 73 telephone numbers and 36 electronic mail addresses. The subpoena didn’t state the character of the investigation, Apple mentioned, including that the corporate supplied solely metadata and account subscriber info, not emails or photos.
The subpoena included a gag order signed by a federal Justice of the Peace decide that saved a lid on the investigation for 3 years. The Biden administration didn’t search to increase the gag order, permitting Apple to inform the themes of the subpoena on May 5 that their telephone knowledge had been seized.
The investigation didn’t discover proof tying the lawmakers to leaks to the press, Schiff and Swalwell mentioned final week.
“This baseless investigation, while now closed, is yet another example of Trump’s corrupt weaponization of justice,” Schiff, D-Calif., said final week.
Swalwell, D-Calif., said lawmakers’ relations have been “targeted punitively” and the gag order was motivated by worry of a public notion that the Trump administration was going after the previous president’s perceived enemies.
Earlier this month, the Justice Department introduced it can not secretly get hold of journalists’ records throughout leak investigations, a departure from a coverage utilized by earlier administrations to attempt to determine sources who supplied journalists with categorized info.
Garland on Monday is scheduled to satisfy with representatives of The New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN, whose reporters have been focused as a part of the leak investigation, by Trump administration prosecutors.