Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell went after Senate Democratic leadership for wanting former Attorneys General Bill Barr and Jeff Sessions to testify before Congress over the Trump-era Justice Department’s decision to secretly go after records of Democrats and journalists.
‘Late last week the Democratic leader and the Democratic whip gave in to the urge to pick at the scab of politically motivated investigations that have become their party’s favorite weapon against the previous administration,’ McConnell said Monday on the Senate floor.
McConnell said it ‘rings completely hollow’ for Democrats to be howling about the recent revelations that the DOJ tried secretly obtaining records from House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff and Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell – along with eight journalists – when ‘clear abuses of power’ infected the investigation into former President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday he was against having former Attorneys General Bill Barr and Jeff Sessions testify before Congress over the DOJ’s decision to secretly go after the records of top House Democrats and journalists
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that former Attorneys General Jeff Session (left) and Bill Barr (right) should testify before Congress. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the inquiry should be left to the DOJ’s inspector general
McConnell also stood up for Barr, pointing out that the leak investigations began before his time serving as the top official at the Justice Department.
‘Attorney General Barr served our nation with honor and integrity,’ McConnell said. ‘These latest attempts to tarnish his name bear the telltale signs of a witchhunt in the making.’
The Kentucky Republican acknowledged that Attorney General Merrick Garland already said the DOJ’s inspector general would be looking into the matter, calling the IG ‘fully equipped.’
‘So I’m confident that the existing inquiry will uncover the truth,’ McConnell said.
‘There’s no need for a partisan circus here in the Congress,’ the top Senate Republican added.
On Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer hammered Trump’s Department of Justice for secretly seizing records from Democrats and journalists during his Sunday news conference.
‘What has happened here are fingerprints of a dictatorship, not a democracy,’ Schumer said.
Schumer said Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division John Demers, who’s planning to resign from the department, as well as former attorneys general Barr and Sessions, should testify before Congress voluntarily or face a subpoena.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said at a Sunday press conference in New York City that President Donald Trump’s Department of Justice showed the ‘fingerprints of a dictatorship, not a democracy’
He asked his Senate Republican colleagues, who twice acquitted Trump on impeachment charges, to join him in the push.
‘This was nothing less than a gross abuse of power, an assault on the separation of powers,’ Schumer continued. ‘I don’t think we’ve ever had a record of this ever happening in the past.’
Schumer’s No. 2, Majority Whip Dick Durbin, also called on the former DOJ heads to testify.
Both Barr and Sessions deny knowing about the orders.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that was ‘beyond belief’ when she appeared on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday.
Former President Donald Trump was obsessed with sniffing out government officials who were leaking to the press, often resulting in embarrassing news coverage
‘The Justice Department has been rogue under President Trump in so many respects,’ she said. ‘How could it be that there could be an investigation of the members in the other branch of government and the press and the rest too, and the attorneys general did not know?’
‘What the administration did, the Justice Department, the leadership of the former President, goes even beyond Richard Nixon,’ Pelosi also said.
During his presidency, Trump wanted to sniff out government officials who were leaking to the press, as his White House was plagued by embarrassing media reports.
Last week the news broke that the Justice Department had secretly subpoenaed Apple for metadata from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who was then the top Democrat on the GOP-controlled committee, which was investigating Trump’s ties to Russia.
Another top Democratic Intelligence committee member, Rep. Eric Swalwell, was also targeted.
Swalwell said he didn’t ‘buy it’ that Sessions are Barr were kept in the dark.
‘That’s not the way the department works. I know from my experience on the Intelligence Committee that for special matters – whether it involves the members of Congress or senior members, you know, in the press – this would go to the attorney general’s office,’ Swalwell said.
The Justice Department also asked Apple for metadata belonging to then White House counsel Don McGahn and his wife.
McGahn recently testified behind closed doors to the House Judiciary Committee, backing up many of the claims found in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
The DOJ also secretly went after communications belonging to eight journalists – one from CNN, three from The Washington Post and four from The New York Times.
CNN’s Barbara Starr, the network’s Pentagon reporter and the journalist targeted, spoke about it publicly Monday saying, ‘To say I was dumbfounded would be such a vast understatement.’
The network’s own attorney was under a gag order and so Starr only learned that the government was going after 30,000 of her emails from 2017 this May.
HOW TRUMP’S DOJ SOUGHT DATA APPLE DATA FROM DEMOCRATS AND REPORTERS TO HUNT DOWN LEAKERS
The Justice Department under Donald Trump subpoenaed Apple for data from the accounts of at least two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee – including Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell in 2017 and 2018, it was revealed last week.
In all, around a dozen people connected to the committee were targeted, according to reports.
It was an extraordinary measure by prosecutors on behalf of an administration trying to find out who was leaking stories to the press.
The revelations include:
. Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell were told last week that their data had been subpoenaed under former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
. Attorney General Bill Barr revived the investigations a year later.
. On Sunday it was reported that Donald Trump’s White House counsel Don McGahn was also the subject of a subpoena issued by the DOJ. Apple told McGahn last month that they had handed over information to the FBI, but wouldn’t reveal the content of the data.
. The DOJ also sought records from reporters from the New York Times, Washington Post and CNN in 2017.
. CNN’s Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr said prosecutors were seeking around 30,000 emails.
. Officials in the DOJ put the news organization under a gag order that meant their general counsel couldn’t reveal to their staff that the data had been sought.
. Sessions, Barr and longtime deputy AG Rod Rosenstein have all denied knowledge of the attempts to access the records.
. The Department of Justice under Attorney General Merrick Garland has now launched its own internal inquiry into the bid to get records.
. The Biden administration has called the revelations ‘appalling’.
. Critics and leading Democrats have said what happened under Trump’s DOJ is worse than what happened with President Nixon during Watergate.