The US Justice Department’s internal watchdog will probe efforts by the department during former President Donald Trump’s administration to seize the communications data of Democrats in the US House of Representatives, the watchdog confirmed.
Top Senate Democrats on Friday called on former US attorneys general to testify about reported the reported data seizures, while a White House official criticized the actions as “appalling.”
Trump’s Justice Department subpoenaed Apple Inc for data from the accounts of at least two Democrats on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee in an attempt to find out who was behind leaks of classified information, the New York Times reported on Thursday.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Dick Durbin demanded that Trump-era Attorneys General Bill Barr and Jeff Sessions testify about the secret seizure of data, calling it a “gross abuse of power.”
Kate Bedingfield, White House communications director, said the report illustrated the kind of abuse of power in the former administration that prompted Democratic President Joe Biden to run against Republican Trump.
“Obviously, the reports of the behavior of the attorney general under Donald Trump are appalling,” she told CNN.
Biden has made a point of marking the independence of the Justice Department, saying it serves the people, not the president.