Welcome to the Reuters.com BETA. Read our Editor's note on how we're helping professionals make smart decisions.
Read more
Sign In
June 13, 20212:34 PM PDTLast Updated 2 months ago
United States
Congress to probe 'rogue' actions of Trump's Justice Dept
Susan Cornwell

4 minute read
The crest of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) is seen at their headquarters in Washington, D.C., U.S., May 10, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo
WASHINGTON, June 13 (Reuters) - The top two Democrats in the U.S. Congress on Sunday vowed to probe the "rogue" actions of the Justice Department during former President Donald Trump's term, including its move to seize the communications records of Democratic lawmakers.
Those reviews will run parallel with an investigation by the department's own internal watchdog into its moves to subpoena phone records of Representatives Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell, as part of a probe into leaks of classified information.
The Justice Department under former attorneys general William Barr and Jeff Sessions was regularly accused of putting Trump's personal and political interests ahead of the law.
"The Justice Department has been rogue under President Trump, understand that, in so many respects. This is just another manifestation of their rogue activity," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN's "State of the Union."
Her Senate counterpart, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, vowed to subpoena both Barr and Sessions.
"This was nothing less than a gross abuse of power, an assault on the separation of powers," Schumer told a news conference in New York. "They must testify, Sessions and Barr must testify under oath as part of a formal congressional investigation."
A White House official on Friday criticized the Trump administration actions as "appalling."
During a press conference at the Group of Seven leaders' summit in Britain, President Joe Biden could be seen holding a card with talking points on the issue.
"Trump abused power/Trump DOJ out of control. Now we have to clean it up," the card read, according to images captured by a U.S. network pool camera. "I've made it clear this DOJ will reflect my values and principles and priorities -- not Donald Trump's."
Biden was not asked about the probes during his news conference.
Pelosi said the probe by the department's inspector general, Michael Horowitz, would be important but was not a substitute for congressional investigation.
Pelosi said it was "beyond belief" for Barr or Sessions to say they knew nothing about it. Barr told Politico on Friday that he had no recollection of any congressman's phone records being subpoenaed.
Pelosi sidestepped a question about whether they would be subpoenaed, saying she hoped the pair would appear voluntarily.
Horowitz's office said on Friday it was launching a review of the department's use of subpoenas to obtain the communications records of both lawmakers and journalists, including whether "improper considerations" drove those decisions.
The New York Times on Thursday reported that the Trump-era Justice Department subpoenaed Apple Inc (AAPL.O) for data on Schiff and Swalwell.
Apple also told Donald McGahn, a Trump-era White House counsel, that the Justice Department had subpoenaed information about him in early 2018 -- and barred the company from notifying him of the request -- the Times reported on Sunday, citing two people familiar with the matter.
Reuters was unable to immediately confirm that account.
McGahn left the White House in 2018 after it emerged that he was a star witness for Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
"It certainly appears that they were using the Justice Department to go after the president's political enemies. There's a lot we don't know, obviously," Schiff told MSNBC.
Microsoft (MSFT.O) President Brad Smith said in a Washington Post opinion piece on Sunday that the Justice Department needs to "tighten the use of gag orders and probes of Congress and the news media."
He added "Congress should prohibit the executive branch from conducting its investigations wholly in secret absent a strong showing of necessity supported by compelling evidence."
Senator Susan Collins, one of that chamber's most moderate Republicans, said on Sunday that she supported the Justice Department's internal probe.
"Has the Justice Department abused its power by going after members of Congress or the press for partisan political purposes?" she asked in an interview on CBS. She also noted that the question of whether members of Congress had leaked classified information -- which the Trump administration was probing in its subpoenas -- was a "serious" matter that also bore investigation.
Biden's attorney general, Merrick Garland, has come under fire from Democrats in recent weeks for a pair of decisions seen as shielding Trump from scrutiny. Legal experts said those decisions appeared to reflect a department focused on the law and protecting the institution of the presidency, not on political interests.
Garland also said on Friday that the department would step up its enforcement of election law and warned that a series of unofficial audits of the November presidential election being carried out in a handful of U.S. states may be a violation of federal civil rights laws.
The department under Garland has said it will no longer seek source information from journalists, after CNN, the New York Times and the Washington Post said the Trump administration tried secretly to obtain reporters' phone records.
Garland is due to meet with executives from all three outlets to discuss the leak probes on Monday, a department spokesperson and representatives of the companies said.
Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Additional reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Scott Malone and Daniel Wallis
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
More from Reuters
Play video on original page
Read Next
United States
U.S. Senate works on the weekend on $1 trln infrastructure bill
3:16 AM PDT
United States
Trump helped raise more than $56 million online in early 2021
July 30, 2021
United States
Broadway theaters to require COVID-19 shots and masks when shows reopen
July 30, 2021
In one-two punch to Trump, Justice Dept OK's release of taxes, memo
July 30, 2021

Sign up for our newsletter
Subscribe for our daily curated newsletter to receive the latest exclusive Reuters coverage delivered to your inbox.
United States
United States · 3:16 AM PDT
U.S. Senate works on the weekend on $1 trln infrastructure bill
The U.S. Senate will continue work on Saturday on a bill that would spend $1 trillion on roads, rail lines and other infrastructure, as lawmakers from both parties sought to advance President Joe Biden's top legislative priority.
United States
U.S. lawmakers fail to renew pandemic-related residential eviction ban
July 30, 2021
United States
Trump helped raise more than $56 million online in early 2021
July 30, 2021
United States
U.S. judge tells lawyers in Ghislaine Maxwell case to watch what they say
July 30, 2021
United States
Republicans trigger review of election officials in Georgia
July 30, 2021
About Reuters
About Reuters
Reuters News Agency
Brand Attribution Guidelines
Reuters Leadership
Reuters Fact Check
Reuters Diversity Report
Stay Informed
Download the App
Information you can trust
Reuters, the news and media division of Thomson Reuters, is the world’s largest multimedia news provider, reaching billions of people worldwide every day. Reuters provides business, financial, national and international news to professionals via desktop terminals, the world's media organizations, industry events and directly to consumers.
Follow Us
Thomson Reuters Products
Build the strongest argument relying on authoritative content, attorney-editor expertise, and industry defining technology.
The most comprehensive solution to manage all your complex and ever-expanding tax and compliance needs.
The industry leader for online information for tax, accounting and finance professionals.
Refinitiv Products
Information, analytics and exclusive news on financial markets - delivered in an intuitive desktop and mobile interface.
Refinitiv Data Platform
Access to real-time, reference, and non-real time data in the cloud to power your enterprise.
Screen for heightened risk individual and entities globally to help uncover hidden risks in business relationships and human networks.
Advertise With Us
Advertising Guidelines
Terms of Use
Site Feedback

All quotes delayed a minimum of 15 minutes. See here for a complete list of exchanges and delays.
© 2021 Reuters. All rights reserved