The US Justice Department’s (DoJ) internal watchdog said it will launch a probe into subpoenas seeking secret seizure of data from Democratic lawmakers and reporters during investigations initiated under former President Donald Trump’s administration.
“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,” Xinhua news agency quotd DoJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz as saying in a statement on Friday.
The move came in the wake of news of the Department’s decision in Trump’s era to issue subpoenas seeking metadata from House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff and fellow committee member Eric Swalwell during leak investigations.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin also called for two former attorneys general, Bill Barr and Jeff Sessions, to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“The revelation that the Trump Justice Department secretly subpoenaed metadata of House Intelligence Committee Members and staff and their families, including a minor, is shocking. This is a gross abuse of power and an assault on the separation of powers,” Schumer and Durbin said in a joint statement on Friday.
To carry out a subpoena on Barr or Sessions, Judiciary Committee Democrats would need the support of at least one Republican given the committee’s even split between the parties.
The DoJ last month notified reporters at three different outlets their records were sought in similar investigations and dropped the gag orders limiting disclosure of the seizure.