Democrats demand that Barr testify about the Justice Department’s secret seizure of lawmakers’ data.


Top Senate Democrats demanded Friday that former Attorney General William P. Barr and other Justice Department officials testify before the Judiciary Committee about their extraordinary decision to secretly seize data from the accounts of House Democrats and their allies because He was a victim of leaks of classified information.

New York Senator Chuck Schumer, Majority Leader, and Illinois Senator Richard J. Durbin, the chairman of the judiciary panel, said they were open to Mr Barr, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and others if necessary, to testify. He also announced that he would “vigorously investigate” the department’s actions and called on Republicans to join the investigation.

“This issue should not be partisan; Under the Constitution, Congress is an equal branch of government and must be protected from an overarching executive, and we hope that our Republican allies will join us in getting to the bottom of this serious matter,” said Mr. Schumer and Mr. Durbin. Said a statement.

His demands came as Democrats in both houses denounced the seizures and aggressive investigative tactics, which were first reported on Thursday as a blatant abuse of power to target another branch of the government. He said that in Congress President Donald J. Dangerous politicization smacks of eavesdropping on some of Trump’s most visible political opponents.

So far, no major Republicans have joined Democrats in calling for an investigation, which could make fact-finding more difficult. Attempts by Mr. Schumer and Mr. Durbin to pressure him to stand for Congressional privileges reflect the fact that in order to issue subpoenas or testify in an equally divided Senate, Democrats have at least some Republican support. would be required.

The Times reported that as it discovered the source of the leaks about Trump aides and Russia, the Justice Department has asked Apple and another service provider to hand over data to at least a dozen people linked to House intelligence. The grand jury subpoena was used. The committee started in 2017 and 2018. The department then secured a gag order to keep it a secret.

Although leak investigations are routine, current and former officials in the Justice Department and Congress said it is almost unheard of to seize data on lawmakers outside of corruption investigations. The Times also reported that after preliminary rounds of investigation found the intelligence committee did not find evidence linking the leak, Mr Barr objected to the investigation being closed and helped revive it.

Investigators gained access to the records of California Representative Adam B. Schiff, the committee’s top Democrat and now its chairman; Representative Eric Svalwell of California; staff of the committee; and family members, including a minor.

“I expect that every prosecutor involved will be fired from the department,” Swellwell said in an interview on Friday. “It crosses the limits of what we do in this country.”

“We have to find out what happened and how to determine to what extent the DOJ abused its powers under Trump for political purposes,” he continued. “I think it was a direct attack on the independence of a similar branch of government.”

Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon and a member of the Intelligence Committee who has been a prominent critic of government surveillance, said he planned to introduce legislation to crack down on the use of gag orders used on Apple and news organizations is. Those were also investigated in the leak investigation.

“Revelations about the Trump Justice Department targeting journalists and political rivals prove yet again how surveillance powers can be abused and the need to impose strict limits on gag orders that have kept the targets of this espionage on its way for years. stop knowing about it,” said Mr. Widen. in a statement.

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