The House Judiciary Committee, led by Democratic members, ordered the investigation of the former US President Donald Trump's Department of Justice's (DOJ) alleged efforts to monitor Congress members, journalists, and the then-White House counsel.
Amid the announcement, current Attorney General Merrick Garland said the DOJ would work on improving its policies on gathering records from lawmakers. The recent lifting of gag orders revealed Trump's Justice Department issued subpoenas to several tech companies.
Officials discovered that in February 2018, the department secretly subpoenaed Apple, one of the leading technology companies in the world, to gain access to then-White House counsel Don McGahn and his wife's account information. It then issued a gag order to prevent Apple from speaking about the matter to anyone.
Last month, the tech giant informed the McGahns about the subpoena after the gag order expired. Authorities also discovered last week that the Justice Department during Trump's administration used the same strategy to gather information from at least two Democratic members of the House Intelligence Committee, Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell, and some of the staff and family members.
Some believe that the subpoena was part of the Trump administration's Justice Department's attempt to discover the source of the leaks of classified information during the Republican's early years in office, NPR reported.
Both Schiff and Swalwell have been known to be expressive with their disagreement with Trump's administration. The two representatives were involved with the investigations looking into the connection between the Republican's 2016 campaign with the Russian government.
In a statement announcing the committee inquiry, House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler said some reports suggested Trump's DOJ spied on the Republican's political enemies using criminal investigations as a pretext. He added it was possible that the cases were isolated incidents.
However, former attorney generals Jeff Sessions and Bill Barr and former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein denied having knowledge of Trump's DOJ's alleged secret subpoenas. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said one of the crucial pieces of information was who was the person who signed off the orders.
Fighting the Opposition
During his time in office, Trump repeatedly called for the imprisonment of his political opponents, Business Insider reported. Staff close to Sessions said he was not aware or briefed on the information-gathering schemes. Barr, on the other hand, denied knowledge of the orders as he was appointed a year after the subpoenas were issued. Rosenstein also said he was not made aware of the secret subpoenas Trump's DOJ issued during his time.
Trump-appointed head of the Justice Department's national security division, John Demers, is stepping down from his position at the end of the month. The top position of the department played a crucial role in the secret subpoenas Trump's DOJ issued.
Before his announcement, Demers became the center of discussions after the reveal of the information-gathering orders the DOJ issued under the Trump administration. On Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer urged Senate Republicans to support Democrats in issuing a subpoena to Demers after the revelations, CNN reported.