House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday that the Trump administration’s secret subpoenas for data on accounts belonging to at least two House Democrats went “even beyond Richard Nixon.”
The California Democrat appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union,” where she told host Dana Bash that claims by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and William Barr that they were unaware of such Document seizures are “unbelievable.”
“What the administration has done – the Justice Department, the leadership of the former president – goes even beyond Richard Nixon. Richard Nixon had a list of enemies. It’s about undermining the rule of law, ”Pelosi said, referring to the former president secretly recording thousands of hours of his phone calls and meetings, which ultimately contributed to his resignation in 1974. .
John Dean, who served as Nixon’s lawyer before turning on him over the Watergate scandal, said on Friday the Justice Department’s actions under former President Donald Trump amounted to “Nixon on stilts and steroids “.
The speaker’s comments came after a New York Times report last week that Trump’s Justice Department prosecutors subpoenaed Apple and another internet service provider in 2017 and 2018 for data on accounts owned to at least two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee – Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Who was the first Democrat on the committee at the time, and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.). – as well as their assistants and family members in an effort to find out who was leaking classified information to reporters about communications between Trump associates and Russian officials.
Prosecutors had imposed a gag order on Apple over the data entry, which also involved efforts to seize the phone records of at least three major news organizations – the Times, CNN and the Washington Post – in an attempt to identify the confidential sources of journalists. The former justice ministry also issued gag orders related to its attempts to seize media files, barring staff members from talking about government efforts and prompting criticism that it infringed press freedom.
The orders expired this year, allowing companies last month to notify those targeted. The Times report came weeks after revelations about the Trump administration’s seizure of documents from journalists.
On Thursday, Schiff said Trump had “repeatedly and blatantly demanded that the Justice Department carry out its political will” and tried to use the department as “a stick against its political opponents and members of the media” . Swalwell said that “like many of the world’s most despicable dictators … this kind of conduct is unacceptable, but sadly on the mark.”
Pelosi’s comments came just as CNN and The Times reported that Apple informed former White House attorney Don McGahn and his wife last month that the same Justice Department searched for their files while McGahn was still Trump’s best lawyer. Weeks before his cases were subpoenaed, McGahn reportedly fell out of favor with Trump for refusing to order DOJ officials to fire then special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who was leading the department’s investigation on Russian interference in the 2016 elections.
President Joe Biden’s Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz on Friday announced that his office will review secret subpoenas and “review the department’s compliance with applicable Justice Department policies and procedures, and whether such uses, or surveys, were based on inappropriate considerations.
Sessions was the attorney general at the time of the subpoenas and had withdrawn from Russian-related matters. Barr told Politico on Friday that he did not recall prosecutors investigating lawmakers. According to CNN, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein privately told people he was unaware of the subpoenas.
“How could there be an investigation into members of the other branch of government and the press and so on, and the attorneys general didn’t know?” So who are these people? And are they still at the Department of Justice? Pelosi said. “It’s just out of the question, it doesn’t matter who the president is, whatever the party, it can’t be. “
The speaker said Congress will call Sessions, Barr and Rosenstein to testify. Democratic Senate leaders have also demanded that the three appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee and be subpoenaed if they refuse.
Asked by Bash on Sunday whether the House would potentially summon former Justice Department officials to testify, Pelosi said she hoped “they will want to uphold the rule of law” before considering the move.
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