The Biden administration’s Department of Justice will turn its attention to how the department investigated leaks during the Trump administration.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz announced the investigation on Friday.
Beginning in 2017, former President Donald Trump’s Justice Department tried to determine who was leaking information to the media regarding the now-discredited investigation into alleged collusion between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia.
Among other actions, the Justice Department subpoenaed Apple to acquire data belonging to House Intelligence Committee members and then blocked the company from discussing the probe by issuing a gag order, according to Axios.
Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell of California were among those whose phone data was sought.
The Justice Department also sought phone records from journalists in its efforts to find out who was leaking information to the media.
“The DOJ Office of the Inspector General (OIG) is initiating a review of DOJ’s use of subpoenas and other legal authorities to obtain communication records of Members of Congress and affiliated persons, and the news media in connection with recent investigations of alleged unauthorized disclosures of information to the media by government officials,” Horowitz said.
“The review will examine the Department’s compliance with applicable DOJ policies and procedures, and whether any such uses, or the investigations, were based upon improper considerations,” he said.
“If circumstances warrant, the OIG will consider other issues that may arise during the review,” Horowitz said.
Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco requested the review.
Former Attorney General William Barr said that during his time in office, he was “not aware of any congressman’s records being sought in a leak case,” Politico reported.
Trump never called for a probe of Democratic lawmakers in connection with the leak investigation, Barr said.
Trump “was not aware of who we were looking at in any of the cases,” Barr said. “I never discussed the leak cases with Trump. He didn’t really ask me any of the specifics.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the effort to track down leakers was “yet another egregious assault on our democracy waged by the former president.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said they want Barr and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to appear before Congress to answer questions about the issue.
“This appalling politicization of the Department of Justice by Donald Trump and his sycophants must be investigated immediately by both the DOJ Inspector General and Congress,” they said in a statement.
Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa said the Senate does not need to interfere with the investigation.
“Investigations into members of Congress and staff are nothing new, especially for classified leaks,” Grassley said in a statement. “The Justice Department has specific procedures for such sensitive investigations, and the inspector general is already working to determine if they were followed.”