Washington – Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday vowed he would “act quickly” to take action in response to an investigation by the Justice Department’s Inspector General into the department’s efforts during the Trump administration to obtain data communication for Congress members and Congress staff.
In a statement, Garland said there were “important questions that need to be resolved in relation to” the Justice Department’s decision as it sought to determine the source of the leaked classified information about the aides of the Justice Department. then President Donald Trump and their contacts with Russia. .
“So I ordered that the matter be referred to the Inspector General and I have full confidence that he will conduct a full and independent investigation,” Garland said. “If at any time during the investigation action related to the matter in question is warranted, I will not hesitate to act promptly.”
Garland said that while the Justice Department’s internal watchdog review is pending, he has asked Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco “to assess and strengthen the department’s existing policies and procedures for securing cases. of the legislative branch “.
“In line with our commitment to the rule of law, we must ensure that full weight is given to concerns about the separation of powers in the future,” said the attorney general.
Sources confirmed to CBS News last week that federal prosecutors under the Trump administrationin 2017 and 2018 for data from the accounts of two House Intelligence Committee Democrats, current Chairman Adam Schiff and Congressman Eric Swalwell, both from California, as part of a classified information leak investigation . The files of at least a dozen people linked to the House intelligence panel were also seized, including data from committee assistants and family members, including a minor.
Microsoft was also subpoenaed in 2017 for data from a congressman, the company said. The New York Times first reported the subpoenas.
The news of lawmakers’ requests for information sparked an uproar on Capitol Hill, as Democrats accused the Trump administration of abusing its power and targeting Mr. Trump’s political opponents.
On Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called John Demers, deputy attorney general in the Department of Justice’s national security division, to testify on the data entry from lawmakers. But a spokesperson for the department confirmed to CBS News on Monday that Demers will be leaving the department on June 25.
Demers, who joined the Justice Ministry in February 2018, is the oldest political holdover from the previous administration. He only assumed his role after executing the relevant subpoenas and gagging tech companies.