House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) has announced he is launching an investigation into the weaponized Department of Justice (DOJ) for spying on congressional lawmakers and their members of staff.
As part of the probe, Jordan has issued demands to five major tech companies.
Jordan sent letters to Attorney General Merrick Garland and the CEOs of Alphabet (Google), Apple, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon announcing the investigation.
He is demanding documents and materials related to the matter.
On Oct. 19, Google notified the former chief investigative counsel to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) that the Justice Department had subpoenaed Google in 2017.
The request for the staffer’s personal phone records and emails came while the Senate Judiciary Committee, then chaired by Grassley, was investigating the DOJ.
Grassley was investigating the Department’s handling of the Christopher Steele dossier.
That now-debunked 2016 memo, paid for by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, contained salacious and unverified allegations tying President Donald Trump to Russia.
In that same period, a wiretapped phone call between incoming Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak first surfaced, which was considered a leak of classified information.
The Senate Judiciary Committee called for answers from the DOJ about the Flynn investigation and the leak.
The call for transparency comes on the heels of revelations that six-year-old subpoenas had facilitated the department’s breach of personal phone and email accounts for numerous lawmakers and their official aides.
The account framing the current plight was provided by Jordan, who propounded that the DOJ’s intervention strategically targeted the very congressional individuals scrutinizing the agency’s mishandling of the Russia collusion investigation.
Jordan’s theory postulates that such actions tampered with the squarely drawn lines of both the Constitution’s principle of separated powers and Congress’s independent oversight of federal agencies.
Conveying his objections through letters to the tech CEOs, Jordan stated:
“The Justice Department’s efforts to obtain the private communications of congressional staffers, including staffers conducting oversight of the Department, is wholly unacceptable and offends fundamental separation of powers principles as well as Congress’s constitutional authority to conduct oversight of the Department.
“This revelation also follows news that the Department issued subpoenas to obtain the private emails and records of congressional staffers on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence who were conducting oversight of the Justice Department’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation.”
“Google’s notification to this staffer revealed the Justice Department likely also sought the personal records and communications of other congressional staffers — both Republicans and Democrats — who engaged in oversight of the Department during the same period,” Jordan added.
Jordan stated that the Justice Department’s efforts to pursue the private communications of congressional staffers, some of whom were conducting oversight of the DOJ, was “unacceptable” and violates “separation of powers principles as well.”
An additional point of contention for Jordan was the DOJ obtaining private emails and records from staffers with the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, who had been examining the Department’s Crossfire Hurricane” investigation.
In Jordan’s view, “These revelations strongly suggest that the Justice Department weaponized its law-enforcement authority to spy on the entities seeking to hold it accountable.”
These troubling revelations expose a disturbing overreach of surveillance, a flagrant violation of privacy, and a stark shakeup of the checks-and-balances system, propelling the call for corporate accountability and congressional autonomy into the spotlight.
Garland and the CEOs of Alphabet, Apple, T-Mobile, and Verizon, have a deadline of November 14 to send documents, communications, and materials requested by the House Judiciary Committee.