Inspector General Michael Horowitz announced on Friday his investigation of the Justice Department’s seizure of the data of Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee and of several reporters as part of wide-ranging leak investigations during the Trump years.
“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,” Horowitz said in a statement. “If circumstances warrant, the OIG will consider other issues that may arise during the review.”
The Horowitz probe comes after a series of revelations since Trump left office about how aggressively the Justice Department was investigating leaks that were politically damaging to the ex-president.
The New York Times reported on Thursday that under then-Attorneys General Jeff Sessions and Bill Barr, the Justice Department had issued subpoenas seeking out Apple metadata for Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), plus their families and staffers on the committee, in its hunt for leaks.
Previous reporting had revealed that the Justice Department had also seized communication records of reporters from the New York Times, the Washington Post, and CNN.
After the explosive Times report, Schiff and Swalwell called on the inspector general to open an investigation into the matter, as did Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-IL) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
“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,” Schiff said on Thursday. “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.”
Schumer and Durbin stated on Friday that the Senate Judiciary Committee would “vigorously investigate this abuse of power” and demanded Barr, Sessions, and other top Trump DOJ officials to testify under oath.