House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) is speaking out after a report revealed the Trump Department of Justice (DOJ) seized records from at least two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee.
The New York Times reported that while the DOJ was investigating leaks of classified information during the Trump administration, “prosecutors subpoenaed Apple for data from the accounts of at least two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, aides and family members. One was a minor.”
Records of at least a dozen people tied to the House Intelligence Committee were seized in 2017 and early 2018, according to the report. This includes Schiff and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), who is a member of the committee, according to the Times. They were told about it last month.
The Times also reports, “As the years wore on, some officials argued in meetings that charges were becoming less realistic, former Justice Department officials said: They lacked strong evidence, and a jury might not care about information reported years earlier.”
Appearing on “The Rachel Maddow Show” Thursday evening, Schiff said, “It’s really norm within norm within norm being broken here. The first, most important norm post-Watergate is the president of the United States does not get involved in particular cases at the Justice Department. He doesn’t urge the Justice Department to investigate particular people. That’s one very important norm.”
He continued, “Beyond that, the president doesn’t urge the department to investigate his political adversaries or his political enemies. That is even a more important norm.”
Schiff continued and called the actions by the Trump DOJ “an abuse of power”:
“And then I think even beyond that, you have the specter of a president who is himself under investigation by our committee, calling for an unprecedented subpoena — unprecedented subpoenas for account information pertaining to members of Congress, to staff members, to family members, even to a minor child.
And that — that is, I think, a terrible abuse of power. It violates, I think, the separation of powers. But it also makes the Department of Justice just a fully owned subsidiary of the president`s personal legal interests and political interests. And that does such damage to the department.
So, it’s extraordinary, maybe unprecedented for the department to seek records like this of a member of Congress or staff of a member of Congress or staff of a committee, to do so in a partisan way, to do so when they’re investigating him, to do so openly calling on his department. It’s hard to express just how shocking an abuse of power this really is.”
Chairman Schiff: “The Attorney General has an obligation to clean house. … Make sure that there’s accountability for those that were engaged in political and partisan investigations.”
Also tonight, Rep. Ted Lieu: “Anyone involved in this who is still at DOJ needs to resign.” pic.twitter.com/xSQJt2yWdn
— Ryan Goodman (@rgoodlaw) June 11, 2021
A former DOJ official who worked on leak investigations, David Laufman, said, “Notwithstanding whether there was sufficient predication for the leak investigation itself, including family members and minor children strikes me as extremely aggressive,” according to the Times.
Laufman added, “In combination with former President Trump’s unmistakable vendetta against Congressman Schiff, it raises serious questions about whether the manner in which this investigation was conducted was influenced by political considerations rather than purely legal ones.”
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) also responded, tweeting, “If DOJ can secretly wield its power against Members of Congress investigating the Administration, that subverts the Separation of Powers. It causes a chilling effect on Members to speak against or investigate the executive branch. DOJ personnel involved in this need to resign.”
If DOJ can secretly wield its power against Members of Congress investigating the Administration, that subverts the Separation of Powers. It causes a chilling effect on Members to speak against or investigate the executive branch. DOJ personnel involved in this need to resign. https://t.co/AUJn0H53Ns
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) June 11, 2021
Additionally, Swalwell spoke to CNN’s Don Lemon where he said that they “were targeted punitively — not for any reason in law, but because Donald Trump identified Chairman Schiff and members of the committee as an enemy.”
“It looks like they were renewed a number of times and, thankfully, … it looks like [the Biden administration] did not renew it,” Swalwell said, adding, “The matter’s closed. And of course it’s closed, because we did nothing but our jobs, and we followed the rules we were supposed to follow in our investigation that showed that Donald Trump and his team sought to have assistance from Russia.”
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