The Inspector General of the DOJ will investigate the department’s use of subpoenas to secretly obtain communication records of journalists and members of Congress, according to a press release issued Friday afternoon.
“The review will examine the Department’s compliance with applicable DOJ policies and procedures, and whether any such uses, or the investigations, were based upon improper considerations. If circumstances warrant, the OIG will consider other issues that may arise during the review,” read the statement from Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz.
Democratic lawmakers demanded the IG probe after it was revealed that Donald Trump’s DOJ obtained the phone records of Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), their aides, and their family members, including one minor. The DOJ – following public calls from Trump – were looking for the source of a leak to the news media regarding the Trump campaign’s contact with Russians. Trump’s DOJ also obtained communication records from various journalists, including reporters at CNN, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. Those secret seizures were revealed earlier this year.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) called the subpoenas of Schiff, Swalwell, and their associates – which were subject to a gag order – “a gross abuse of power and an assault on the separation of powers.”
“This appalling politicization of the Department of Justice by Donald Trump and his sycophants must be investigated immediately by both the DOJ Inspector General and Congress,” they said in a statement which also called for congressional testimony from former Attorneys General Jeffrey Sessions and William Barr, who oversaw the leak probe.
“I hope every prosecutor who was involved in this is thrown out of the department,” Swalwell told The New York Times on Friday. “It crosses the line of what we do in this country.”