Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) are demanding answers from former Attorney General Bill Barr and other top Trump-era Justice Department officials on the former administration’s secret seizing of several Democrats’ metadata.
“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,” Schumer and Durbin, who also serves as Senate Judiciary Committee chair, declared in a joint statement on Friday.
“Former Attorneys General Barr and [Jeff] Sessions and other officials who were involved must testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee under oath,” they continued. “If they refuse, they are subject to being subpoenaed and compelled to testify under oath.”
The Democrats vowed that the committee would “vigorously investigate this abuse of power,” and called on the Justice Department to provide more information on the explosive revelations, which were first reported by the New York Times on Thursday night.
“This issue should not be partisan; under the Constitution, Congress is a co-equal branch of government and must be protected from an overreaching executive, and we expect that our Republican colleagues will join us in getting to the bottom of this serious matter,” Schumer and Durbin said.
A bombshell report by the Times, which was later confirmed by multiple other outlets, revealed that the Trump administration had in its hunt for leaks subpoenaed the Apple metadata of House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) and fellow committee member Eric Swalwell (D-CA), as well as that of their families, including a minor.
“President Trump repeatedly and flagrantly demanded that the Department of Justice carry out his political will, and tried to use the Department as a cudgel against his political opponents and members of the media,” Schiff said in a statement on Thursday after the reports emerged. “It is increasingly apparent that those demands did not fall on deaf ears.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has also called for an investigation, slamming the “yet another egregious assault on our democracy waged by the former president.”