House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff called for an inquiry of Donald Trump amid a report that he used the Department of Justice to target political and personal foes, saying the former president “repeatedly and flagrantly” attempted to use the department “as a cudgel” during his time in office.
“It is increasingly apparent that those demands did not fall on deaf ears,” Schiff said. “The politicization of the department and the attacks on the rule of law are among the most dangerous assaults on our democracy carried out by the former president.”
The California Democrat’s comments came after a New York Times report revealed 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, the Times reported.
“All told, the records of at least a dozen people tied to the committee were seized in 2017 and early 2018, including those of Schiff, then the panel’s top Democrat and now its chairman,” the newspaper continued, citing committee officials and two other people briefed on the inquiry.
The Times determined that prosecutors, under then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, “were hunting for the sources behind news media reports about contacts between Trump associates and Russia. Ultimately, the data and other evidence did not tie the committee to the leaks, and investigators debated whether they had hit a dead-end, and some even discussed closing the inquiry.”
But William P. Barr revived the languishing leak investigations after he became attorney general a year later.
The newspaper concluded that Barr moved a trusted prosecutor from New Jersey with little relevant experience to the main Justice Department to work on the Schiff-related case and about a half-dozen others, according to three people with knowledge of his work who did not want to be identified discussing federal investigations.
“Though we were informed by the Department in May that this investigation is closed, I believe more answers are needed, which is why I believe the Inspector General should investigate this and other cases that suggest the weaponization of law enforcement by a corrupt president,” Schiff wrote in a statement Friday.
The Times reported that the Intelligence Committee had investigated Russian interference into the 2016 election and interviewed witnesses behind closed doors.
Schiff and other Democrats on the committee became some of the most vocal critics of Trump in Congress, NBC News reported.
Speaking late Thursday to CNN, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), said Apple had told him that his records, too, had been sought.
Apple notified some members of the committee last month that their information had been included, NBC reported, citing confirmation from a committee official.
Apple also notified current and former staff members and relatives, including a minor child, that their information had been subject to subpoenas, the official said.
The committee asked the Justice Department for more details and was informed last month that the matter had been closed, the official continued, NBC reported.
The investigation initially was launched to find the source of leaks of classified information early in the Trump administration, The Times reported. Sessions began the inquiry and Barr revived it.
The Times reported that the investigation ultimately did not connect anyone on the committee to the leaks.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) echoed Schiff’s call for an inquiry into the matter, calling it a “weaponization of law enforcement by the former president.”
“The news about the politicization of the Trump administration Justice Department is harrowing,” Pelosi said, NBC reported. These actions appear to be yet another egregious assault on our democracy waged by the former president
Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said the pursuit of the phone records was “a direct attack on the separation of powers and Congressional independence” and called for an investigation of Sessions and Barr.
“There must be a full investigation of abuses under former Attorneys General Sessions and Barr, and anyone at DOJ who was complicit in these abuses of power cannot be trusted to continue serving in government,” Wyden said in a statement.