“What the government has done, the Justice Department, the leadership of the former president, even goes beyond Richard Nixon. Richard Nixon had a list of enemies. This is about undermining the rule of law,” the California Democrat told Dana Bash.
Pelosi said that at least former attorneys general William Barr and Jeff Sessions need to be called to Capitol Hill to explain what happened.
“We have to have to put her under oath to testify about it.”
The calls for testimony come before Garland’s meetings with executives at CNN, the Washington Post and the New York Times. The group seeks answers to Trump’s Justice Department demands for journalists’ communications logs – and gag orders they cover up – and to prevent future governments from committing such abuse of power.
“It’s a simple goal – it’s about protecting press freedom now and in the future,” said CNN’s Washington office boss Sam Feist on Sunday in Reliable Sources.
In another staggering development on Sunday, it was revealed that Trump’s own Department of Justice summoned Apple over files from White House attorney Don McGahn and his wife while he was still the presidency’s chief attorney, according to a trusted Republican with an acquaintance Dilemma: Will you again shield an ex-president who was guilty of an earlier series of attacks on democracy that is only now becoming fully clear? Over the past few months, GOP leaders have repeatedly said that it is time to move away from the previous administration as Senate Republicans set up an independent commission to investigate the Trump-instigated January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol To block.
But the issues raised by the secret subpoenas do not only require accountability. The more details become known, the better the public will understand the kind of attacks on fundamental US freedoms that could follow if Trump wins the presidency in 2024 or his party elects a leader with similar autocratic tendencies. America is already getting a good idea of this with the GOP’s attempts – inspired by Trump’s election lies – to make it harder for many Americans, including black voters to cast their votes, and to make it easier for GOP officials and lawmakers to intervene in the post-election certification process.
What did Trump know?
Upcoming Congressional investigations will likely try to find out if the former president orchestrated the data claims and which officials were involved. Two Democratic lawmakers, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff and California MP Eric Swalwell, were implicated in the classified data operation. The possibility remains that further covert searches have been attempted against others and are not yet public.
The Ministry of Justice has already announced a review of the secret data searches by the inspector general of the ministry.
Pelosi also said she does not know if lawmakers other than Schiff and Swalwell are subject to the Trump administration’s data collection.
“How could it be that members of the other level of government and the press and the rest were being investigated and the attorneys general did not know? So who are these people? And are they? asked Pelosi.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Sunday deputy national security attorney general John Demers and former acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker should be added to the list of officials who should be compelled to give subpoenas if necessary.
“It was nothing less than a gross abuse of power, an attack on the separation of powers. I don’t think we’ve ever reported on it in the past,” said the New York Democrat at a press conference in New York City on Sunday.
“What happened here are the fingerprints of a dictatorship, not a democracy,” said Schumer.
A broad target for investigation
There are several separate, but seemingly interrelated, threads to the latest revelations about a possible use of the Justice Department by the Trump administration to advance the former president’s tough political goals.
It’s not yet clear why Schiff and Swalwell were targeted, but both asked questions about the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia.
The FBI sent Apple a subpoena in 2018 regarding metadata from more than 100 accounts, including that of a minor. The request was accompanied by a gag order that meant Apple was prevented from informing the seizure victims that they would be investigated.
In another dimension of the scandal, CNN announced last week that it had fought a month-long legal battle against the Justice Department when investigators searched communications records of Barbara Starr, the network’s Pentagon correspondent. A gag order prevented David Vigilante, CNN’s general counsel, from discussing the order with anyone but the network’s president and a small group of lawyers. Starr was unaware that she had been dragged into the leak investigation, which was looking for 2017 email logs from a time when she covered North Korea, Syria and Afghanistan, among others. CNN still doesn’t know what stories sparked the wrath of the Trump Justice Department.
Three Washington Post reporters were informed that the department received their phone recordings from 2017 last year. The New York Times said it fought both the Trump administration and the Biden administration for the first few weeks over the email logs of four of their reporters.
The Biden government said earlier this month that it would no longer seize reports from reporters in the wake of leak investigations. The White House is committed to restoring the independence of the Justice Department, which was severely weakened under Trump. But Garland now faces questions about his initial approach to news organizations and pressures to give a full account of what happened.
Garland hits the press
Garland will face pressure from media officials at Monday’s meeting to not only clarify the scope of the investigation against reporters, but also to commit to regulatory changes that will prevent future Justice Department abuses.
Feist said on Reliable Sources that CNN wanted to find out the scope of the Justice Department’s investigation and information on the stories involved.
“It’s no accident, I don’t think the three news organizations targeted by Trump’s Justice Department were CNN, the New York Times and the Washington Post.”
“These were the organizations that were high on his list of enemies of the American people.”
Sunday’s news, first reported by the New York Times that the Justice Department had also gone to McGahn’s account records, possibly added another fascinating dimension to the secret leak investigation.
McGahn and his wife received information from Apple last month that their account records were requested by the Justice Department in February 2018, a trusted person told CNN. McGahn, who drew Trump’s anger for refusing to cover up his motion to dismiss then Special Counsel Robert Mueller, was still serving in his official White House position at the time.
The Justice Department went to a judge several times to keep the data search secret while Trump was in office, but the gag order expired in May.
The Department appears to have accessed McGahn and his wife’s information in the same month that it accessed Apple’s records on dozens of phone numbers and email accounts associated with the House Intelligence Committee, including California Democrats Schiff and Swalwell , collected.
It wasn’t immediately clear who in the Justice Department had arranged the subpoena for McGahn’s records. However, one of the less nefarious possibilities was ruled out when a source said the subpoena was not from Mueller’s team on Sunday when the special investigator was investigating whether Trump was obstructing justice.
Sessions, who was dismissed from all matters related to the Russia investigation, and former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who would have overseen a related leak investigation in his place, were unaware of this request for information regarding McGahn and his wife another known source.
Whatever explanation comes up, the notion that the presidency’s chief attorney was the subject of a subpoena within Trump’s own Justice Department is another amazing development in a coda on a presidency already steeped in abuse of power and anti-democratic maneuvers, which Trump has made more persistent Influence on the GOP threatens to further jeopardize American democracy.
CNN’s Katelyn Polantz and Paul Reid contributed to this story.