Ultimately, the data did not link the committee to the leaks, and there were discussions about dropping the investigation. But a year later, William Barr, after becoming attorney general, relaunched the investigation, relocating departmental employees to work on the Schiff case.
When Maddow asked Schiff on Thursday whether Congress should also investigate the department’s seizure of files, Schiff said he should, adding that Attorney General Merrick Garland would be questioned about it. He said he himself should not play a role in the investigation, given his cases have been subpoenaed, but said other congressional committees may be exercising oversight.
As for Garland’s role, Schiff said the current attorney general has the responsibility of “cleaning up” and it would take at least a decade before the department recovers from politicization.
“I think the attorney general has an obligation to clean up, to understand exactly what the ministry has been doing over the past four years – to make sure there is accountability for those who have been engaged in. political and partisan investigations within the ministry, ”Schiff said. .
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi backed Schiff’s call for an investigation, calling the Times report “heartbreaking.”
“These actions appear to be another blatant attack on our democracy led by the former president,” Pelosi said in a statement. “I support the call of the chairman of the intelligence committee, Adam Schiff, for an investigation into this situation and other acts of militarization of law enforcement by the former president. Transparency is essential.
The metadata capture, if corroborated, would show how eager Trump administration officials were to identify and prosecute the sources. The Justice Department, just as it did when investigating news agencies, is said to have issued a gag order against Apple. Lawmakers only learned they were under investigation last month, when the gag order expired and Apple informed them of the seizure, according to the Times report.
Schiff said that while unprecedented, the department’s decision was “patent abuse” and “another example of the politicization of the chairman” of the department.
“We are obviously deeply suspicious of what the Department of Justice was doing,” he said. “More than that, it looks like a blatant abuse of the department. Yet another example of the politicization of the President, using the Justice Department as a club to prey on his enemies. He repeatedly attacked our committee, attacked me personally, called for inquiries from our committee while we investigated him.
He added: “And apparently these appeals were met by a receptive audience at the highest level of the Department of Justice.”
Schiff also said Thursday that it was still unclear how many members were subject to the subpoenas and whether only the Democrats’ files had been seized. He said they would learn more in the next few days when committee members recheck old emails for Apple’s notice – an email that members and staff believed was spam, Schiff said. .