Rep. Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, called for an inspector general investigation on Thursday after reports revealed that his phone records along with those of aides and another member of the committee had been seized — what he condemned as a “terrible abuse power”
One thing Rep. Adam Schiff would never tolerate is being "targeted" by Trump's Justice Department which has done so to him in this instance. He claims it's no accident or coincidence that their phones were targeted during investigations into Russian interference in US elections stating how these things are not unusual at all given they happen routinely to Americans suspected of crimes but instead may have occurred because investigators believe members like himself could be uniquely helpful witnesses who can corroborate allegations against Trump Administration.
Rep. Schiff told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow that Trump is using the Justice Department as a way to hide his own corrupt behavior and legal interests, "It also makes the department just a fully-owned subsidiary of president’s personal legal interest and political interests."
The New York Times, citing knowledgeable sources, reported on Thursday night that as the Department of Justice hunted for leakers behind the distribution of classified information early in Trump's administration prosecutors - in an extraordinary move subpoenaed Apple for communications data from at least two Democrats and aides to House Intelligence Committee members. One was a child.
The leaked data regarding the leaks of private conversations from Russia's hacking on an American voting machine company didn't provide enough to tie the committee members with these occurrences. One year later, William Barr became Attorney General and revitalized investigations into this matter. He moved around Department employees to work as part of a team for their investigation into Schiff cases (a congressman who was targeted in leaks). Congressman Eric Swalwell confirms that he is one member whose records were seized by Apple - notified last night so they could prepare accordingly before receiving notice from law enforcement officials.
“We have seen this through the Justice Department by Donald Trump, whether it was the reason he was impeached, for trying to go after Vice President Biden at the time, or just other efforts, you know, through the Mueller investigation,” Swalwell said. “And I support Chairman Schiff’s call for an inspector general report into not only this conduct, but other conduct that was corrupt by Donald Trump and those who worked for him.”
Maddow asks, "Should Congress investigate the Department of Justice seizing your records?"
She then continues to interrogate him on how Attorney General Merrick Garland should be questioned about this. The other committees in congress could exercise oversight and question if necessary.
As for Garland’s role, Schiff said that the current attorney general had a responsibility to “clean house,” and that it would be at least ten years before the department recovered from politicization.
“I think that the attorney general has an obligation to clean house, to essentially understand exactly what the department was doing over the last four years — make sure there’s accountability for those that were engaged in political and partisan investigations within the department,” Schiff said.
“These actions appear to be yet another egregious assault on our democracy waged by the former president,” Pelosi said in a statement. “I support Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff’s call for an investigation into this situation and other acts of the weaponization of law enforcement by the former president. Transparency is essential.”
The Trump administration seized a reporter's phone records in an attempt to identify and prosecute sources. The Justice Department just like they did with news organizations issued a gag order against Apple, but lawmakers weren't notified until the gag order expired.
Reps Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said that while unprecedented this move was "a patent abuse" of justice by President Donald J. Trump."
“We’re obviously deeply suspicious of what the Justice Department was doing,” he said. “More than that, this looks like a patent abuse of the department. Yet another example of the president politicizing, using the Department of Justice as a cudgel to go after his enemies. He would repeatedly attack our committee, attack me personally, call for investigations of our committee while we were doing an investigation of him.”
Schiff says that it's unclear how many members were targeted and whether Democrats' records only. He said the committee will learn more in the coming days as they recheck old email for Apple spam, an email which was thought to be a scam by most of those involved at first glance.
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