Justice Department under Trump seized data from House Democrats in leaks inquiry

Trump Justice Department seized records of House Democrats as it searched for leakers: report

The Justice Department informed the intelligence panel in May that the matter had not transferred to any other entity or investigative body, the committee official said, and the department confirmed that again Thursday. Trump called the inquiries a "witch hunt" and regularly criticized Schiff and other Democrats on Twitter.

The Times writes that the DOJ routinely investigates leaks, but it was "extraordinary" for the DOJ to subpoena "communications metadata from members of Congress - a almost unheard-of move outside of corruptions investigations".

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The Justice Department asked for an internal investigation Friday after revelations that former President Donald Trump's administration seized phone data from at least two House Democrats in 2018 as part of an aggressive leaks probe.

Ultimately, none of the data or other evidence tied the lawmakers or the House Intelligence Committee to the leaks, the Times said.

The Justice Department obtained metadata - probably records of calls, texts and locations - but not other content from the devices, like photos, messages or emails, according to one of the people.

The records belonged to members of the committee, including Rep. Adam Schiff of California, as well as their staffers and families, including one minor, The Times reported. Why would it be perhaps unprecedented, at least very unusual thing for a member of Congress to have records like this seized by a Justice Department? He now serves as chairman.

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Congressman Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat who sits on the panel, told CNN that he was notified that his data was seized.

The committee has continued to seek additional information, but the Justice Department has not been forthcoming in a timely manner, including on questions such as whether the investigation was properly predicated and whether it targeted only Democrats. Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions began the inquiry, and it was revived under his successor, William Barr.

Another Democrat on the intelligence panel, Illinois Representative Mike Quigley, said he did not find it even "remotely surprising" that Trump went after committee members' records during the Russian Federation probe.

The Justice Department and Apple did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment. "The politicization of the Department and the attacks on the rule of law are among the most unsafe assaults on our democracy carried out by the former President".

"The news about the politicization of the Trump Administration Justice Department is harrowing", House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) said in a statement.

Trump "tried to use the Department as a cudgel against his political opponents and members of the media".

MADDOW: You released a statement tonight, and you spoke with "The Times" as well, calling on the inspector general, the independent inspector general inside the Justice Department, to look into this, to investigate this essentially as the - potentially, the weaponization of law enforcement for political purposes. Following an outcry from press freedom organizations, the Justice Department announced last week that it would cease the practice of going after journalists' sourcing information.

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