The government watchdog group known as Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has now requested a slew of documents from the federal government related to the Trump administration’s spying on two Democratic members of Congress along with staffers and family members of both Democrats. The Trump Justice Department subpoenaed and obtained communications data for those individuals in connection to an investigation into leaks of government information, although the investigation never tied either member of Congress to the leaks.
Now, insisting that “the public needs transparency about how far Trump pushed the DOJ to serve his own political agenda,” CREW “has requested all records from January 1, 2017 to June 1, 2021 relating to any investigation of alleged unauthorized disclosures of information in which the DOJ sought communication records of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, their staff, or their family members,” according to a statement. The group “has also requested records reflecting the DOJ’s procedures on issuing grand jury subpoenas seeking information related to members of Congress, their staff, family members, or members of the news media.” The Trump administration also went after communications data for certain journalists from prominent outlets.
The Democrats who were targeted included Reps. Adam Schiff (Calif.) and Eric Swalwell (Calif.), both of whom have been prominent in efforts within Congress to hold Trump accountable for his foreign ties. When in office, Trump repeatedly — without evidence — characterized Schiff as a source of leaks of government information, suggesting that the Justice Department investigation targeting the Congressman may have been directly connected to the then-president’s conspiratorial rantings against his political opponents. Obviously, political pressure from a president should have no meaningful bearing on the direction of a Justice Department investigation.
Trump era Attorney Generals Bill Barr and Jeff Sessions have claimed that they had no knowledge of the subpoenas for Schiff and Swalwell’s data, although neither of the ex-officials have established themselves as particularly credible sources. Senate Democrats have launched their own investigation of the matter, already insisting that Barr and Sessions should testify — and if they don’t testify willingly, that the former Trump Attorney Generals should expect to be subpoenaed.