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Justice Department watchdog investigates congressional and media subpoenas


Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz on Friday announced his office would review the Department’s use of subpoenas and other legal tools to get communication data from some lawmakers, aides, family members and reporters during his investigation of those leaking information about President Trump’s aides and their contacts with Russia.

During the Trump administration, federal prosecutors subpoenaed Apple in 2017 and 2018 over data from the accounts of two Democratic members of the House Intelligence Committee, a House Intelligence Committee official told CBS News. Two sources said current President Adam Schiff was one of the targets, and Congressman Eric Swalwell told CNN on Thursday that his files were also seized.

Horowitz said in a statement that the watchdog review would examine the department’s compliance with “applicable DOJ policies and procedures.” The Inspector General is also investigating whether the use of any of these policies or procedures – as well as the investigations themselves – “were based on improper considerations”.

Schiff welcomed the Inspector General’s investigation and called it in a statement “an important first step”. He also called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to “do a full assessment of the damage caused by the conduct of the ministry over the past four years and outline all the responsibilities and mitigation measures needed to protect the public in the future. “.

According to the New York Times, which first reported on the subpoenas, the files of at least a dozen people linked to the House Intelligence Committee have been seized, including those of committee aides and family members.

Jason Miller, senior adviser to former President Trump, made no comment when asked if Mr. Trump was aware of or ordered subpoenas of the phone tapes.

A House Intelligence Committee official told CBS News that subpoena targets were informed by Apple in May that the Justice Department had issued grand jury summons for their information in February 2018, and that cases were also seized in 2017. The Times reported that Apple provided metadata and account information, not emails or personal information. He also said data provided to the Justice Department did not show the leaks came from the committee, which was told in May that the case had been closed.

In recent weeks, several news outlets have said they have been notified by the Justice Department that he had secretly obtained telephone and electronic recordings of some of their reporters during the early months of the Trump administration.

After President Biden condemned the practice in late May, the Justice Department said this month it would no longer seize reporters’ files while investigating the leaks.

Arden Farhi contributed to this report.

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