Representative Adam Schiff on Thursday denounced the “politicization” of the government under former President Donald Trump after the New York Times reported that the Justice Department was targeting the communications records of key Democratic lawmakers, their aides and members of their family.
“This is a terrible abuse of power, it violates, I think, the separation of powers, but it also makes the Department of Justice a wholly-owned subsidiary of the president’s personal legal interests,” said Schiff, who was referred to in the summons, said in an interview Thursday with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.
Schiff, who is now the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, did not name who else was targeted and said he did not know if any Republican members were included, adding that the subpoenas were “extraordinarily broad “.
“President Trump has repeatedly and blatantly called for the Justice Department to carry out its political will and has tried to use the department as a stick against its political opponents and members of the media,” said Schiff, D -Calif., In a press release. “It is increasingly clear that these demands have not fallen on deaf ears. The politicization of the department and attacks on the rule of law are among the most dangerous attacks on our democracy carried out by the government. ‘former president. “
The New York Times reported that in February 2018, the Justice Department assigned metadata from tech giant Apple regarding the accounts of at least two House Intelligence Committee Democrats, aides and family members, including a minor child.
At the time, the House Intelligence Committee was investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and conducting closed-door interviews with witnesses. Schiff and other Democrats on the committee have become among Trump’s most vocal critics in Congress.
Apple informed some members of the House Intelligence Committee in May this year that their information had been included, committee officials confirmed to NBC News. Apple has also informed current and former staff and family members, including minor children, that their information has also been subpoenaed, the official said.
The committee asked the courts for more details and were told in May that the case had been closed, the official said.
The investigation was initially launched, the newspaper reported, to find the source of the leaked classified information at the start of the Trump administration. Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions began the investigation and it was revived under his successor in court, Bill Barr.
The newspaper reported that in the end, the investigation did not link any committee member to the leaks.
Schiff said although the investigation appears to be closed, there should be an internal investigation.
“Although we were informed by the ministry in May that this investigation is closed, I think more answers are needed, which is why I think the Inspector General should investigate this case and others that suggest the militarization of the police by a corrupt president, “he said in his statement.